More Dishonest Apologetics from Josh and Sean McDowell

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Ahab and Jezebel

 

I am once again plodding through the 800 plus page magnum opus of evangelical Christian apologists Josh and Sean McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict.  (I can only stomach this very biased fundamentalist Christian propaganda in small bites.)  Here is a quote from pages 374-375:

Some contemporary scholars claim that the question of the relationship of the Old Testament and ANE  [Ancient Near East] civilizations has become less relevant.  A high level of cynicism and suspicion is evident on the more skeptical side of modern scholarship when dealing with the OT.  One such example of this suspicion can be seen in Thomas Thompsons’ comments on the OT:

“We have seen that the biblical chronologies are not grounded on historical memory, but are rather based on a very late theological schema that presupposes a very historical world-view.  Those efforts to use the biblical narratives for a reconstruction of the history of the Near East, in a manner comparable to the use of the archives at Mari and similar finds, can justly be dismissed as fundamental [flawed in a fundamental way].”  (Thompson, HPN, 315)

Thompson here seems to take the stance of many who follow the higher criticism (arising in the nineteenth century) that critiques the formation of the Bible.  This assumption is that writers of the Bible had no direct memory of the historical events they recorded.  They are said to have set down a tradition and to impose the worldview of their own time as they wrote about much earlier times.  Carrid argues that these scholars hold that the history of Israel in the OT is “nothing more than a Judaic “Iliad”, “Odyssey”, or even “Winnie-the Pooh.”  (Currid, AEOT, 172-173)

Thompson’s statement, however, is not characteristic of the majority of scholars today.  In fact, many critical scholars still see historical value extending back to David/Solomon.  Walton suggests that challenges to Thompson’s view have come from “competent Assyriologists and Egyptologists such as K. A. Kitchen, D. J. Wiseman, A.R. Millard, K.L. Younger, and J. Hoffmeier, who not only refute some of the charges leveled by skeptics, but also provide evidence of the Bible’s reliability through their cultural and comparative studies.” (Walton, ANETOT, 36)

[emphasis in bold type, Gary’s]

Gary:  The bolded statement above is blatantly false.  It is an example of the frequently used practice of wildly exaggerating the strength of the fundamentalist Christian position, made famous by another evangelical Christian apologist, William Lane Craig:  “The majority of scholars agree (with my fundamentalist Christian agenda) that…”.  The overwhelming majority of scholars do NOT believe that the biblical accounts in the Old Testament beginning with David and Solomon are historical reliable.  In fact, some historical reliability is not seen in the OT accounts until the Israelite king, Omri, the father of King Ahab!  The existence of David, Solomon, and their immediate descendants are still in the realm of speculation!

The McDowells quote five scholars who support their fundamentalist Christian views yet refer to this handful of experts as “many“.  That is a fringe, Mr. and Mr. McDowell!   A fringe is a more accurate description of the number of Near East scholars who share your view of the historical reliability of the Old Testament.

Why are so many conservative Christian apologists so dishonest?  Admit the truth, father and son McDowell:  The existence of every character in the Bible prior to King Omri is unproven.  The entire Old Testament prior to this Israelite king may very well be ancient near east mythology!

 

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The Origin of God

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You and your family live in a cave.  Saber-tooth tigers and other large carnivores stalk you for their next meal.  Food is scarce.  Scrounging for food occupies most of your day.   Other humans occasionally raid your “territory” to steal your belongings and maybe even your wife and children.   Disease and accidents regularly kill a substantial percentage of your family.

Life is hard.  Survival is day to day.

So chance “strokes of luck” are seen to be more than coincidence.  The fact that you just narrowly escaped being a tiger’s next meal, by the most unusual of circumstances, must be fate, not just chance. Maybe there is an unseen force which occasionally helps you.  And if this force occasionally “blesses” you, then maybe the tragedies you experience are also due to this invisible force.  Maybe it is displeased with you.  So rare strokes of luck and rare tragedies start to shape your behavior.  You have become superstitious.

And what, or who, is this force?

God.

 

 

 

 

End of post.

Hallucinations Versus Illusions: Which Phenomenon Most Likely Explains the Original Appearances of a Risen Jesus?

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It’s an appearance of Jesus!

We know that in our own time, numerous individuals have experienced hallucinations in which they believe that Jesus has appeared to them.  Likewise, numerous individuals and groups have claimed to have “seen” Jesus (and his mother Mary) in cloud formations, reflections, and even stains on a wall (illusions)!  How possible is that the earliest “appearances” of the risen Jesus can be explained by one of these phenomenon or a combination of both?

If the dating of the Early Creed found in First Corinthians 15 is correct (within three years of Jesus’ death), this means that very early on, it was claimed that individuals and groups of individuals had received appearances of Jesus.  The million dollar question is:  What did an “appearance” of Jesus involve?  Were they appearances of a walking, talking flesh and bones body or were they something else?

Yes, Christians are correct that resurrection, as defined by the pharisees of Jesus time, meant a physical body, not a ghostly body, but how do we know that the persons who originally claimed to have received a Jesus appearance believed that they had seen a resurrected body?  Isn’t it possible that the original “receivers” of these appearances simply believed that they had seen something that signified to them that Jesus was back from the dead (risen)?   Is it possible that a first century person who had seen a bright light, or a shadow, or a cloud formation, or a stain on a wall would believe that they had seen Jesus, or, would they have said, “I saw a stain on a wall that looked like Jesus”?

If people today can see a stain on a wall and say “It’s an appearance of Jesus” why is it impossible that someone living two thousand years ago would do the same?

Is it possible that some of the original “eyewitnesses” saw an illusion such as a bright light, a shadow, or a stain on a wall and sincerely believed that Jesus had “appeared” to them?

How probable is the following scenario:  One disciple (maybe Simon Peter) has an hallucination due to extreme emotional trauma combined with a lack of sleep or a high fever from an illness.  Medical experts tell us that mentally healthy people can have hallucinations under certain conditions such as sleep deprivation, severe emotional trauma, high fevers, etc..  If the tomb of Jesus really had been found empty, this hallucination would explain the empty tomb:  God (Yahweh) had raised Jesus from the dead.  Jesus has appeared to Peter and told him to spread the Good News of the coming Kingdom to all the world.

The small band of Jesus’ followers is electrified by this news!  Their timidity and fear is gone.  They now boldly preach the news of a risen Jesus and a coming end to Roman rule:  the Kingdom of God is nigh!

But if the New Kingdom is to begin, the righteous dead must be resurrected.  Maybe…Jesus was resurrected as the first fruits of the resurrection of the righteous dead???  The remainder of the righteous dead are going to be resurrected from their graves at any moment!  God has raised Jesus first to demonstrate that Jesus was telling the truth.  Jesus was the messenger of God…Jesus was the Messiah!  Although the Old Testament prophecies never mention a dead Messiah, God’s ways are not our ways!  God works in mysterious but wonderful ways!

Soon groups of disciples are seeing Jesus in cloud formations, reflections, and even stains on walls.

The Resurrection belief is born!

But there had been plenty of other messiah pretenders and when they died, people stopped believing in their messiahship.  Why was it different with Jesus?

Answer:  Jesus was the only messiah pretender whose grave was found empty!

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End of post.

Jesus Appears in a Church…as a Dwarf

Look, folks.  Religious people are gullible when it comes to all things supernatural.  I mean, really gullible.  Check out this video in which some guy who was touring the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem claims that his video recorder, which he thought he had turned off, recorded a “dwarf Jesus” appear above the spot on the pavement where Catholics claim Jesus was born.

I say the tape is rigged.  But a devout believer will swear up and down that it is authentic and that I just don’t want to believe what my eyes are seeing.  Come on!  Superstitious people “see” what they want to see (or rig the tape to make it appear as they want it to)!

 

Why Jesus Cannot Be the Creator of the Universe

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Fundamentalist Christian:

OK, Gary.  It is good that you admit that there appears to be a creator from looking at creation. Now with regard to why this Creator is the Christian God, the answer is simple. An omnipotent all powerful God that is good, would never have created the earth the way it is today. I mean, a wise, good, all powerful God would never have permitted famines, diseases, aging, dying, suffering. OK, so the only way to explain this is through the fall into sin of Adam, so the God of the Bible makes perfect logical sense. As for evidence, the Word of God is the perfect testimony, the atonement for sin is the only way perfect, all powerful God, could rescue his creation, all of the old testament sacrifices point to Jesus Christ. The bible is the best witness, it is the only evidence I have for the God of Christianity, however it is so many books written by so many different authors and it so perfectly explains both our creation and our redemption, why things don’t work in the world today, and why an all powerful omniscient God has promised that new heavens and a new earth will be created in the final redemption of the cosmos. By grace through faith I confess this.

Gary:

Allowing for all possibilities including the supernatural, I can see how Yahweh, the god of the Old Testament, could be the Creator of our universe.  Our universe is filled with massive suffering and pain and Yahweh didn’t seem to have a problem with massive suffering and pain, even if it involved little children (the Great Flood, the complete destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Plague of the First Born in Egypt, the slaughter of the Midianite little boys and their mothers, the slaughter of the Canaanites, the annihilation of the Amalekites…to name a few).  But I just can’t buy the claim that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Creator.  The Jesus of the Gospels would never allow so much suffering and pain, especially when it comes to little children.

25,000 children die each and every day (Read here), the majority of them dying from preventable causes such as starvation and infectious disease.  Would the Jesus of the Gospels who so loved and cared for little children allow such horrific, massive suffering of so many little ones, each and every day, for thousands and thousands of years, if he really is the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of our universe?

I don’t think so.

The Jesus of the Gospels would never allow this daily mass die off of little children to occur.  Jesus cannot be the Creator.  Therefore, trinitarian Christianity cannot be true.

Christianity is false.  That is what the evidence strongly indicates.

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Yes, ever since Adam and Eve ate his forbidden fruit, Jesus has watched from his throne in heaven as 25,000 children die every day of the year from starvation, disease, child abuse, and war. I don’t buy it.

 

 

 

 

End of post.

 

Groups of People Today Claim to See Jesus. Why do Many Christians Doubt these Claims but Believe the Claims of the Disciples?

One of the biggest arguments used by Christians for the historicity of the Resurrection is the fact that the Gospels claim that large groups of people saw Jesus.  How could so many people have been hallucinating the exact same hallucination all at the same time?  That’s impossible!  Therefore, what they claimed they saw must have been real.

But think about this:  Our earliest record of the alleged Jesus appearances is found in First Corinthians 15, and this passage gives us zero details about what these groups of people allegedly saw!  Christians assume that they saw a walking, talking flesh and blood body, but this assumption is based on the stories found in the Gospels; books which most experts believe were written by non-eyewitnesses, writing in an ancient genre of literature which allowed for extensive embellishments to the story.

What if the only thing that groups of disciples ever really saw were cloud formations that they believed looked like Jesus???

Check out this video in which hundreds of modern Christians “see” Jesus:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.