The Atheist’s attention now turns to the Gospels, but his argument is so weak here that it hardly deserves that much attention.
When Were the Gospel’s Written?
So, if Mark was written around 50 AD (or even if it were as late as 65 AD), where’s the problem here? Obviously, dating manuscripts is not an exact science. Since the documents themselves don’t bear dates, if we’re in the first century AD, that means that the writers could have been eyewitnesses, since the activities that happened in the Gospels took place between 4 BC and 29 AD. In fact, this bolsters the Christian’s claim.
Paul wrote at the same time
So Paul wrote his letters—not all of which are included in the Bible—at the same time that the Gospel writers were writing their books. And one of the Gospels was being written by a travel companion of his—the good doctor/historian Luke.
So, why would Paul want to write about something he had second or third hand knowledge of when his friend was researching for a book and had second hand knowledge, and he was in the presence of first hand eye witnesses that were writing as well.
What do you take Paul for? He was a learned scholar, and knew that his place was taking Christianity and helping to form the doctrine from the teachings of Jesus.
And the idea that Paul never talked about the miracles of Jesus—he constantly talked about Jesus rising from the dead. He performed miracles himself. He was constantly preaching and teaching. Did it occur to the Atheists that he need not write in his letter something that He spoke about in public? Since most of the letters were to churches that would have both access to the New Testament Gospels and were already believers—this is the most bizarre argument yet.
Jesus Should Have Had A Scribe
The last thing is again an appeal to “if I were Jesus.” Jesus surrounded Himself with twelve men for His entire ministry—and as John said, if they were to try to recount everything that He said and did it would fill “the Earth.” The point being, Jesus knew that the important things He said and did would survive.
Lastly, it make sense that the writings would take place after His death and resurrection because of what the Apostles believed about His return. Misunderstanding, like they did a lot, they believed His return was imminent and there would have been no need to record everything. And yet they started to after they were doing their ministries…
17 thoughts on “The Writing of the Gospels”
It’s clear you don’t really know much about the writing of the Gospels. Not even Christian tradition says they were written by eyewitnesses; at best, Christians say only Matthew and John were, but even Christian scholars acknowledge they’re anonymous accounts with no firm evidence they were written by their putative authors. Dating ranges all over the map, from as early as 50 CE to well into second century. This just scratches the surface of gospel problems.
As for Paul, where do I begin? It’s false to say that he was “helping to form the doctrine from the teachings of Jesus” when he never attributes any teaching to Jesus. Paul always says he received his knowledge from revelation from God (e.g., Gal. 1: 12), which results in conflict with Peter and the Jerusalem church. And what did Jesus have use for another apostle decades after He died? His original apostles just weren’t up to the task? So why’d he pick them in the first place?
You respond to Paul’s silence in regards to Jesus’s miracles by saying he constantly refers to the resurrection? Wow. All those other miracles – walking on water, raising people from the dead, curing lepers, feedings thousands from a few baskets of food – piddling irrelevancies, apparently. And besides, they were mentioned in all those gospels everyone had access to, but curiously, no one mentioned or referenced until…a hundred years later. Why doesn’t Paul ever place the passion in any earthly context? He never mentions where it occurred, who did it, and when. Finally, Paul doesn’t seem to care one bit about the tomb where Jesus was allegedly resurrected. Perhaps the line was always too long?
I think you need to re-read your Bible more carefully. The apostles didn’t “misunderstand” anything about Jesus imminent return because Jesus himself said it was imminent (e.g., Matt. 16:27-28).
@Robert: You’re certainly right that Matthew and John are the only Gospels to be written by eye-witnesses. Luke was second hand– and a scholar, proven by his work in Acts. Mark wrote down what Peter (an eyewitness) told him as he preached.
No serious scholar now dates the New Testament Gospels in the second century, and the 50 AD (CE if you prefer) date is fine for first hand authorship.
It would be false to say that he never attributes anything to Jesus. His conversion experience (documented multiple times in the New Testament) is said to be an experience of Jesus, he claims to have gotten the ordinance of Communion from the Lord, and makes reference to him often. Paul claims that God is three persons– Father, Son and Holy Spirit– so it is not inconsistent to say that he received something of “God” and be referring to God the Son.
He chose 12 apostles, one of them betrayed him. He chose another apostle to the Gentiles– why is this an issue?
Have you ever even read the writings of Paul? I’m beginning to doubt it. A majority of his writings are either works on doctrine or they are personal letters to individual churches. He references the teachings of Jesus without having to reference the miracles. Again, it was well understood at the time that the people knew of the Gospels, as well as the works of Jesus, so why rehearse something everyone knew?
The obvious answer to all of your questions is that your dating is messed up. If you put the Gospels after the writings of Paul, then certainly there could be problems. However, if you put them in the correct time frame, there’s no reason for Paul to say, “the Christ was crucified at Golgotha” because everyone would have know that. It would be like me constantly referring to the fact that Pres. Obama was a senator from Illinois in every post I write about the President. Everyone knows this fact, it’s general knowledge.
There was nothing in the tomb– it’s an empty grave.
And lastly, I read the Bible just fine, thank you. The apostles misunderstood a lot while Jesus was conducting His earthly ministry. Just reading through the Gospels shows you that they spent practically the entire time they were with Him believing He was going to establish an earthly kingdom and fighting over who would take what place (right or left hand) when He took over. They were doing this at the last supper!
So, it would be totally consistent for them to misconstrue an imminent return for a return at the end of the age.
That’s not what I said. I said that Christian tradition asserts Matthew and John were eyewitnesses, but there’s little to no evidence to support such a claim.
You’re mistaken. Also, I never said I thought any gospel, much less all of them, was written as early at 50 CE. That date is given by only the most conservative Christian scholars, who date Matthew that early.
Please pay better attention to what I wrote. I said Paul never attributes any teachings to Jesus, as you claimed he had. Paul sources his knowledge to revelation.
There were already 12 or more apostles by the time of Paul’s commission (see 1 Cor. 15:5-8). Why didn’t God chose from among the first 12 an apostle to the Gentiles when he was on earth?
There is absolutely no evidence for this view. What’s more, Paul’s letters would carry far greater weight if he said something like, “As Jesus said…”; he would be making an argument from authority. Finally, if what you say is true, why does Paul have to settle arguments and disputes on issues that Jesus had already spoken about?
My dating accords with the evidence and scholarship. Your dating is supposed in order to support a claim.
As well as the earthly locus for the singular most important event for mankind, according to Paul. Sorry, it’s just not believable that Paul would ignore it if he knew of its existence, particularly since Christians ever since have spilled so much blood trying to recapture places like Jerusalem.
Then it’s Jesus’s fault for not being more clear, since he knew they’d “misconstrue” his teaching on the subject. Paul did it too.
@Robert: Point by point gets muddled in comment replies, so I will attempt a summary refutation and attempt to address your points that way.
First, Aristotle’s dictum is in force when we approach any work– “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic to himself.” Simply put, the weight of proving that the author was not the person who claimed to have written the work lies with the person trying to refute the authorship, not vice versa.
The writers of the Gospels wrote as eyewitnesses or from firsthand information (Luke 1:1-3, John 19:35, Luke3:1, etc.). F.F. Bruce writes:
William Foxwell Albright, one of the world’s foremost biblical archeologists, said, “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.” Dr. John A. T. Robinson, not a conservative theologian, comes to some startling conclusions in his groundbreaking book Redating the New Testament. His research has led to his conviction that the whole of the New Testament was written before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Lastly, the accuracy of the book of Acts as a source of information regarding the first century has proven that Luke was a first century, not a second century writer. Luke wrote of many types of things that would not have been known or had been different in the second century, and wrote of them in an off hand way. He has been afforded the rank of an historian of the first rate.
Again, the problem is with your worldview and your dating. Quoting “scholars” does not refute the evidence, for truth is not decided by a majority vote.
Your understanding of the Scripture is the problem with your understanding of what Paul does and does not attribute to Jesus. Paul clearly states that he talked with Jesus Christ– who was the One who Paul gave credit of the Revelation coming from? (Romans 14:14, I Corinthians 9:1, etc.) Paul states the reason for his presentation in 1 Corinthians 2:2- His message was simply Jesus Christ and His crucifixion/resurrection. It was a decision made on his part. Considering his mission to the Gentiles, the rehearsal of miracles performed by Christ would not be as effective as to those that would have witnessed or heard of Jesus in Jerusalem.
There are many reasonable options for their absence such that it is not an issue.
Why choose Paul and not another disciple? I cannot presume to know the exact reason, but would be able to present multiple possibilities.
There is no record that Paul did or did not visit the empty tomb. There was nothing there– and regardless of future generations beliefs that these things hold significance, in the first century the faith was about a relationship with a live being, not visiting relics and creating shrines. Why would you choose to worship or pay reverence to an inanimate object when you’re in communion with a Holy God?
Jesus often spoke in parables and prophecy is never “clear.” That’s hardly some kind of thing that one can lay guilt to.
True, but the Gospels do not identify their authors “who claimed to have written the work”. This is why Christian apologists acknowledge that they’re anonymous accounts.
With regards to Bruce and Albright, contemporary scholars have come to disagree with their views. Hector Avalos, for example, wrote that “the findings of textual critics devastate any claim that the Bible has been transmitted faithfully from any original text.” Several have noted significant problems in the gospels themselves. Conservative Christian scholar C. F. D. Moule wrote, “Any case for a high Christology that depended on the authenticity of the alleged claims of Jesus about himself, especially in the 4th Gospel, would be precarious.” Another conservative Christian Michael Ramsey wrote, “Jesus did not claim deity for himself.” Still another Christian scholar, Brian Hebblethwaite, wrote, “It is no longer possible to defend the divinity of Jesus by referring to the claims of Jesus.” Referring to Albright specifically, William G. Dever, one of the giants in the field of Palestianian archaeology, wrote, “his central theses have all been overturned, partly by further advances in Biblical criticism, but mostly by the continuing archaeological research of younger Americans and Israelis to whom he himself gave encouragement and momentum.”
I can go on demonstrating how your understanding is disputed by even your fellow Christians, but the point I wish to make is that when non-Christians examine claims like yours, we don’t accept “what is possible.” Rather, we gather the facts and evidence and fashion a view based on them. Your method is instead to come up with any explanation you can to fit your pre-determined conclusion, no matter how fanciful or unbelievable. As long as “it’s possible,” you’re satisfied, though you don’t apply this same standard to other religions (isn’t it “possible” Joseph Smith really did find some golden plates?). This is why your response to the atheist fails. The evidence drives his belief, while belief drives your view of the evidence. Skeptics like myself are interested in what’s probable, not what’s possible. We’re looking for theories that explain the most evidence and facts. The Christian view does not do this at all.
@Robert: Your first statement is false. The names of the Gospels are primary identification, and there are definitely secondary identifying remarks in at least two of the Gospels.
The problem with the quotes of scholars is that you can find them and I can find them, and they can even refute each other when on the same side. One of your quotes says that Jesus did not claim deity for himself while the next one you quote says that you cannot defend the divinity of Christ by referring to claims of Jesus. Doesn’t that seem a little amusing to you? That in the two that you use for your assertion, one says “there are none” and the other says “we can’t trust the ones that are there.” They’re inconsistent in and of themselves.
As far as the disputes, they are actually more irrelevant to the conversation than not. The fact of the matter is, we will continue to be able to find “scholars” that agree with our particular worldview– so it simply highlights not a strength or a weakness as much as it shows that it’s really all about worldviews.
For the topic of this series– a person who is “deconverting” and says “these are the convincing arguments for me to leave a given worldview to a different worldview”, I’m actively demonstrating that these are insufficient to say “Christianity is false” simply because all I have to do is provide a probable or rational reason why the argument is or could be false. Rationally, there’s a change in worldview that occurred rather than any inherent problem with Christianity.
I know that the atheist refuses to believe that his worldview is a religion, but it is a faith, a worldview, a way of interpreting the facts that the atheists holds to with the passion of any believer in Christ or any other religion. It keeps the atheist from being objective, as he considers as reliable the “scholars” that are skeptical and agree with his position as passionate as the believer reads and agrees with the “scholars” that reinforce his position.
However, the choice is still clear, and you and I seem to have made our decision. I speak to those that are rationally considering the arguments– more the agnostic than the atheist. The militant and fundamentalist atheist, though I pray for them, will not be able to respond to my discussion without a change of heart that only God can do.
The gospel names are not original to the gospels, but later church attributions. Nothing in the gospels themselves attributes authorship. Scholars are not even sure who the John is in the Gospel of John. As Robert Kysar writes in The Anchor Bible Dictionary:
“The supposition that the author was one and the same with the beloved disciple is often advanced as a means of insuring that the evangelist did witness Jesus’ ministry. Two other passages are advanced as evidence of the same – 19:35 and 21:24. But both falter under close scrutiny. 19:35 does not claim that the author was the one who witnessed the scene but only that the scene is related on the sound basis of eyewitness. 21:24 is part of the appendix of the gospel and should not be assumed to have come from the same hand as that responsible for the body of the gospel. Neither of these passages, therefore, persuades many Johannine scholars that the author claims eyewitness status.”
Yes, it’s extremely amusing to me because the inconsistency is among Christian scholars. Why should skeptics accept your word on the gospels when your fellow Christians don’t even agree with you?
Not when those of your same worldview disagree with you, I’m afraid.
As I’ve stated before, such a standard is insufficient, and one you don’t even apply yourself to arguments from competing religions. No one is convinced, other than those with a vested interest in remaining convinced, of “could be” type arguments. People reject Christianity as false because its extravagant truth claims are supported by scant or no evidence.
Of course, this doesn’t answer why the worldview changed from Christianity to something else in the first place.
In any case, the argument is bizarre. If this is truly what you believe, why go through the trouble of trying to refute the atheist’s arguments? Simply say, “His worldview does not permit him to see the truth of Christianity” and be done with it? Essentially, your position is this: the atheist’s argument is unfounded because God hasn’t provided him with the proper outlook to understand the truth of the Christian arguments. Talk about circular…
@Robert: Luke gives testimony to his authorship– his opening remarks as well as the connection to the book of Acts. Papias gives attribution of the book of John to John the Apostle.
Just as there are multiple different versions of skeptics, why should it surprise you that there are multiple different versions of Christians? It’s patently absurd to expect everyone to be in agreement. Many people, including the both of us, walk into the discussion with anything but an open mind– we bring our worldview. And we filter based on our worldview.
And if my worldview states that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God accurately reporting history, how does that compare to those that are skeptical of the authorship of the Gospels?
My standard (that of providing a rational reason) is not insufficient for the topic at hand. The topic is a “Christian” who believes he has deconverted and provided 9 of his most convincing arguments. To say “well, we have this option of the historical argument where there’s disagreement between people that call themselves Christians as to authorship and dating”– that’s a pathetic argument. At best, it casts doubt– but it’s not convincing, except to the person who already accepts that worldview.
I’m not convinced by “could be” arguments. Have you done any kind of formal debate or understand the basics of logic and proofs? It’s the same kind of principle when it comes to “reasonable doubt” in a murder case. Since the burden of proof is on the skeptic based on the historicity of Christianity and the assumption over the centuries of the Bible’s veracity, it’s up to the skeptic to prove that it’s wrong.
Why refute the Atheist arguments? To encourage believers that may be wondering about the topic or doubting. Christians sometimes know what is happening in their own lives or their church or their doctrine, but they also need to know that there is scholarship, reason and history behind what they believe.
And though Paul states that those that are not elect do not have the ability to see the truth of the Bible, it also says that it is my job to spread that light. The Bible states that it takes faith– if you could test it in a lab, etc., it would not be faith.
Robert is doing such a good job here, but you seem to be clinging to the same arguments. First, how is it that because the current versions of the book of Luke include a statement attributed to the author that he is Luke have any bearing on the authorship of the book? I could write a book and state that I, Harry Truman, am the author – would you buy that?
The difference between your worldview and that you attribute to skeptics is that the skeptic’s view toward the Bible is consistent with his views toward every thing else. You suspend the judgment and logic you use for every other matter in life and attribute a supernatural quality to the bible. That isn’t just a difference of opinion, it is a merely hypocrisy.
To believe as you do requires faith you say, quoting the Bible. To paraphrase the bible a bit more, the “ability to see the truth of the Bible” means that you have decided to declare that because you hope something is true that constitutes substantial proof that it is true. Because you cannot find any rational proof that the bible is true, that constitutes evidence that it is true. I hope the Easter Bunny is real so that is faith. I can’t prove the Easter Bunny doesn’t exist so he must really exist. The Easter Bunny can only be perceived by those with faith. As with the other arguments you make, when applied to anything other than the bible, it is obviously ridiculous. Why is it different when the Bible is the topic?
Again, Aristotle stated that you begin any textual criticism accepting what the book claims about itself until you can prove otherwise. Obviously, if you claimed to be Harry Truman, and yet your book had a copyright in 2009 you’re obviously a fraud. The same cannot be said for the Gospel of Luke or Acts of the Apostles– let alone the fact that multiple authors at the time stated that it was Luke who wrote it. I guess you could get people to lie and say you were Harry Truman, but people would know the truth.
The skeptic believes that the world is all that can be observed and tested– and in that I do not believe that his worldview accurately represents the world around him. There is no hypocrisy. I consistently have laid out arguments from reason, documentary evidence, etc. to show that it is not irrational to believe that the Bible is what it claims to be. I do not “hope” that the Bible is truth– I know that it is truth. I know the way that Christ has changed my life.
So far, all that you and Robert and every skeptic has been able to say is “there are scholars that disagree with you,” and for every “scholar” that disagrees with me, there are many that agree with me. In the face of people with different worldviews the choice is always clear. You have to decide what worldview– what camp, if you will– that you wish to side with. You can choose to believe that all we see and can touch and feel is real, or you can choose to believe what the Bible says about reality.
There is no “convincing proof” that your skepticism is right– you have not silenced the scholars that disagree, you have not found a contradiction in the Bible that has no answer, and all you and really have come up with is trying to defame a book that many more people believe in than will ever agree with you. You have chosen a side, just as I have– and you have hope that I’m wrong. You have hope that there is no Creator, no miracles, no virgin birth or resurrection, no law, no sin, etc. because if there are those things then you have a problem. Then your life has an owner, your actions will have consequences, and there may just be a real accounting for what you choose to believe.
I preach Christ crucified and resurrected because of the love that was shared to me, and the hope that it brings to all that would believe– that there is no end to life, that there is a Creator God that loves and wants to have a relationship with us, and that the wrongs in our lives can be atoned for. There is hope in the cross– hope for the murderer, hope for the drunk, hope for the sinner. It’s a powerful message– totally the antithesis of the skeptic or atheist who must conclude that life is meaningless, that it can end at any time, and that you must live the life you have to the best of your ability because it could be gone and that’s the end.
The hope I have is an eternal one.
Once more, it seems you fail to appreciate the point. Throughout your series, you’ve presented a viewpoint that’s disputed even among those who share your Christian worldview. Your argument is thus more with your fellow Christians than with skeptics. You’re welcome to presuppose Biblical inerrancy, but this is a minority stance within Christian scholarship. It also makes your position even more ridiculous and anachronistic from the standpoint of multiple fields of science and scholarship. You’re not debunking anyone but yourself.
As I already pointed out, this is incorrect because it doesn’t account for a change in worldview. Disagreements among Christians indeed cast doubt, but that’s just one straw. There are hundreds of other straws whose cumulative weight break the proverbial back, i.e., change the worldview. I don’t regard it as much of a change in worldview since everyone’s a skeptic toward other religions. What happens in deconversion is that an individual finally aims her skepticism toward her own religion.
This is probably the most laughable statement you’ve made so far. The Bible’s veracity is only assumed by Christians and has been rejected by the vast majority of humanity. As knowledge, science, and morality have advanced, the case against the Bible has only grown stronger, to the point where Christians themselves are constantly having to re-interpret or allegorize much of it in order to reduce their cognitive dissonance. You practically concede my case when you acknowledge it takes faith (i.e., irrationality) to believe the Bible.
Unfortunately for the religion, many Christians are realizing that the scholarship is outdated, the reasoning is flimsy, and the history is one-sided. When they discover the whole picture, they realize – as that new atheist did – that their belief is unjustified.
Robert, have you even bothered to read the whole series? I have been, from the beginning, presenting a case as to why a specific skeptic’s 9 “convincing arguments” are not so convincing. I think I should keep count how many times I’ve said this. I have not tried to convince skeptics– or skeptical Christians. I have set out to state why these arguments are not as airtight as the skeptics would have a Christian believe, and are no cause for concern.
Furthermore, the term “Christian” it too broad a term for rational discussion– just as the term skeptic is too broad in some cases, hence why I refer to deconverted atheists, not agnostics, etc. Certainly there are groups of people that refer to themselves as Christians that do not believe in the Bible, create their own interpretation and are loosely attached to the idea of a Christ. I believe they are in error– but that’s not a problem for a discussion about a topic where the atheist brings up “convincing proofs” and a person that believes such as I refutes him from the Scriptures.
Again, reasoning that “there are Christians that believe X therefore your argument is with them” is a strawman. I’m attempting to explain why there’s no problem with Scripture and a Bible-based worldview. Those that don’t have a Bible-based worldview are not “on my side” and do not present a problem.
Disagreements are actually a strength, not a weakness. First, they show that this is something that has real value– if it wasn’t something that people believed or effected them, they wouldn’t be spending the time researching and discussing it. Furthermore, disagreements should not cast doubt to the veracity of the document insomuch as there are disagreements about how the Constitution should be interpreted (strict constructionist or living document, etc) and that doesn’t warrant a removal of the Constitution or its power.
Those that do not have a Biblical worldview have a reason for treating the Bible with skepticism. A good case for defending the veracity of the Scripture could be built on the the two works of Luke alone. The Acts of the Apostles has been proven time and again to be something that has stood archeologically as one of the best historical documents of all time. And yet it contains miracles and dealings of people in that date which the skeptic says cannot happened. And why would Luke write one document that was super accurate, and yet have another that was filled with error. That would be ludicrous.
The burden of proof is on the skeptic. Christianity in the Western world has been the driving force for over 2000 years. The Old Testament Scripture has been around long before that.
I don’t believe there has yet been a ruling where knowledge, science and morality has proved the Bible wrong. If there is, please present it. I haven’t had to allegorize or re-interpret anything to prevent cognitive dissonance. Some people have beliefs that they wish to rationalize and make the Bible fit in with– but it doesn’t. It’s unchanging, and they should either embrace it as it is, or leave it.
It takes faith both to trust the Bible and to leave it. You have to look at the facts and make a decision to throw aside those that point toward the Bible’s veracity and God’s existence. You have to choose a side– and in that choosing you actively choose which path you with follow, where you will place your faith. You believe that the Bible’s false, so you believe that the rationality is flimsy, so you believe that there is no God. That’s your faith. Your history is as one sided. Your faith in a Earth without a Creator is a faith indeed, because you cannot prove it or test it. And the reality is that there is no hope in that belief.
The person that chooses to leave their faith to pursue a faith in the idea that there is no God is a sad individual indeed– perhaps not sad in emotion or in state, but sad in the fact that they have changed a living hope into no hope. If indeed they had that hope in the first place.
The “skeptic’s 9 convincing arguments” are the arguments he personally found most convincing, and he only briefly outlined them at that. He didn’t intend them to be “airtight” or “convincing proofs”; those are your words. Rather, he only says that the weight of the evidence points to his conclusion.
Insofar as you regard Christians who don’t share your particular theology as non-Christian, you’re committing the no true Scotsman fallacy, a stance which turns out to be highly convenient for your argument. Christians don’t agree you about the Bible? They’re not really Christians, so of course their worldview prevents them from regarding the Bible as inerrant. QED…
The funny thing is, belief in Biblical inerrancy is a relatively recent development within Christianity, which means billions of Christians throughout history haven’t really been Christians, according to you.
Let me guess, it was “proven” by those with a “Bible-based worldview”.
Once again, the standard is not “proof,” but the weight of evidence, and for that the evidence is overwhelming against the Bible to those who don’t presuppose a faith-based belief in it. Where is the “proof” that the Bible is right in all that it proclaims? It doesn’t exist, which is why you admit it takes faith to trust the Bible.
What’s sad is the person who requires irrational beliefs to exist in the world. Some people simply prefer to live their lives according to reality, not mythical tales, regardless of how nice they sound.
How amusing– he had “9 convincing arguments” that he didn’t intend to be “convincing proofs.” If he was listing “convincing arguments”, for what other purpose would he list them if he didn’t think they were proofs to back up his change? And if the weight of the evidence supports his claims, why is it that I could poke holes in all 9, and of the 9, only 2 of them were any objections raised?
The no true Scotsman fallacy would work, if I chose to define “Christian”. Indeed, germane to the fallacy is that the individuals mentioned all are really Scotsman, but the person committing the fallacy believes that they can’t possibly be. I did not define a “Bible-based worldview” but regardless of whether I did, when I stated that “they are not on my side” I simply said that my arguments were from a person who believes the Bible to be historically accurate as to its authors, dates, and contents. Therefore, should a skeptic– regardless of his affiliation or calling himself a Christian– were to say that the Bible is not one of these things, he does not cause me difficulty because he does not hold to the common ground. He’s a Brit.
The theological discussion around Biblical inerrancy may be a recent development, but that does not mean that the people of some time ago believed that there were errors and only recently found that they had to develop a new doctrine. Obviously, this would have been the best thing for those that were creating divergent religions out of Christianity at the time. The Gnostics and the Judiazers would have been the first to throw out or call into question the writings authority, since they disagreed with the early church. And yet, where are they and the record of their problems?
Obviously, at one point in church history it was decided what books were to be recognized as the New Testament– do you figure that these group of people considered the works flawed?
As for Acts, Sir William Ramsay, as he was creating a topology for Asia Minor, was convinced that the book of Acts was written in the second century, but found that Luke was correct in his geography for the first century. In Colin Hemer, a noted Roman historian, wrote The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History and in it he sets apart the following historical confirmations about the book (this list is not meant to consist of all things listed in the work):
Specialized details, which would not have been widely known except to a contemporary researcher such as Like who traveled widely. These details include exact titles of officials, identification of army units, and information about major routes.
Details archaeologists know are accurate but can’t verify to the precise time period. Some of these are unlikely to have been known except to a writer who had visited the districts.
Correlation of dates of known kinds and governors with the chronology of the narrative.
Facts appropriate to the date of Paul or his immediate contemporary in the church but not to a date earlier or later.
“Undesigned coincidences” between Acts and the Pauline Epistles.
Internal correlations within Acts.
Off-hand geographical references that bespeak familiarity with common knowledge.
Differences in formulation within Acts that indicate the different categories of sources he used.
Peculiarities in the selection of detail, as in theology, that are explainable in the context of what is now known of first-century church life.
Materials the “immediacy” of which suggests that the author was recounting a recent experience, rather than shaping or editing a text long after it had been written.
Cultural or idiomatic items now known to be peculiar to the first century atmosphere.
Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White states:
The evidence is not overwhelmingly against the Bible. So far, the atheist that I quoted failed to present a convincing case, and the best that you can come up with is saying “there are Christian scholars that disagree.” When the same evidence is presented, and two different worldviews interpret it, simply because there is a disagreement on which interpretation is right does not mean that, automatically, one is wrong.
Again, I state that you come to your conclusion based on your worldview, not based on some overwhelming evidence. There is no reason for a person of faith to doubt the Bible.
And it is sad that a person would reject reality, and recorded history, and rather live in a land that they created in their own mind that doesn’t match what has happened and is happening around them.
I suggest you research the difference between “argument” and “proof”.
First, the arguments and evidence were sufficient for him to change his mind. He wasn’t writing a treatise to convince you.
Second, they were merely summaries. Why don’t you deal with full-length treatments like those at Infidels.org or in John Loftus’s book, Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity?
Third, you didn’t poke holes in anything. You gave the standard apologetic tired and unsatisfying answers that don’t even sway Christian scholars. Merely because you can concoct an objection doesn’t make it reasonable.
Finally, your standards and method to show the inerrancy of the Bible also would demonstrate the inerrancy of ANY religious work. In the Muslim worldview, the Qu’ran is perfect, and any alleged problems with it are only “apparent.” Sound familiar?
Incorrect. Central to the fallacy is an ad hoc redefinition of what a true Scotsman (or Christian) is.
You’ve defined a Christian as someone who holds a common ground to you. This is the fallacy. Perhaps you don’t qualify as a Christian because you adhere to a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Since there were no “authorized” writings until well into the 4th century, your question is senseless. Even when the canon was being formalized, there were disagreements over what should be included, and some of those difference are reflected even today.
Why didn’t you include the full quote? Trying to hide something? Here’s the entire thing:
“For Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. [b]Yet Acts is, in simple terms and judged externally, no less of a propaganda narrative than the Gospels, liable to similar distortions.[/b] But any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.” (emphasis mine)
Not exactly the ringing endorsement Christians apologists have made it out to be. But it’s not your fault you don’t have the full quote. The bolded part is always left out on Christian websites.
On the other hand, Charles Guignebert, Professor of the History of Christianity in the Sorbonne, states that “it has been established that the author of Acts was ignorant of the epistles of Paul, and even formally contradicts them; that he does not understand certain ancient traditions [e.g. glossolalia]; and above all that his narrative of the first years of the history of the Christian Church, whose founders he is supposed to have known intimately, is pitifully inadequate”.
In any case, Sherwin-White doesn’t share your worldview, so why are you quoting him? You have a double-standard. You reflexively reject statements by scholars (even Christian ones) who don’t support your position on the grounds they don’t share your worldview, yet approvingly quote these same scholars when they appear to support it. Sorry, that’s dishonest.
You’ve repeatedly failed to answer the fact that this atheist was a former Christian who examined the evidence and became convinced Christianity is bunk, like many, many others. What caused him to change his worldview? The evidence. This is a difficulty you appear unable to answer.
1. I understand the difference between arguments and proofs. Obviously the writer believed these to be the strongest arguments (he said as much) and the implication is that, if you agree with his arguments, you couldn’t hold a faith in Christianity. It’s nice for you to parse up my comments into subsections and not take the arguments I make as a whole.
2. I responded to an article I read– which is something I do a lot of on this site.
3. And every argument I read on this man’s post was the same tired old argument that I’ve seen many times before as well, hence why I decided that I would address it this time.
4. Incorrect. You could not prove any of the other works using the same reasoning that I used throughout the series here. Mohammad was the only author of the Qu’ran, not multiple authors writing a work over thousands of years.
5. No True Scotsman: I guess I read the analogy the other way. However, the fallacy only exists in the case that there is a clear definition and then one redefines the term because of an exception. I did not attempt to redefine “Christian”. I defined a “biblical worldview”. But even if I did decide to go with the term Christian, you would have to prove that it is I that redefined the term, and not you so that you could have a person that disagreed with my assertion included in the group.
Indeed, in the original illustration, I who am not a Scotsman could do one of the activities that “No True Scotsman” would do, claiming to be a Scotsman. Would that be a problem? No. Same with those that may claim the name of “Christian”, yet not be a Christian. So, in order to properly claim the fallacy, I believe you would also have to properly define “Christian.” Which, I would also say, would be something amusing because in the first century it was actually a term of derision. People of the time that had faith in Christ were called “People of the Way.”
In any case, I would argue that Paul and the Apostles stood for the accuracy of what they were writing and the Old Testament at the time, and would have more in common with what I’ve put forth than the “scholars” of today that do not.
5. The writings of the Gospels and Epistles were around in the first century AD, and those with divergent beliefs were there creating what they believed. It would have been easy for them to argue that a specific book was not written by who it claimed to be– and they would have had greater authority than people thousands of years later who are trying to undermine Biblical authority and compromise with a secular society.
6. I provided the full quote from the source that I had. And yet my quote does not disrupt my point– the historicity of the book of Acts. Obviously it had a purpose that was external to the history that it contained, as he referenced, but that’s just distraction from the point.
The quote that you offer does not contradict the one above. That the man was supposed to know every ancient tradition and that he had to fulfill a certain historian’s standard is, again, irrelevant.
7. Why am I quoting someone that doesn’t share my worldview? I am making a simple argument here. I am stating a specific position. My position is this– there are two different worldviews that are at play here. We both have the same evidence, and yet one group reflexively proposes a set of beliefs that the Bible is historically wrong and another that it is right. Therefore, to support said arguments, I present scholars (both “Christian” and secular) that support said argument. It is given that there are those that disagree– the post that I am critiquing is one such post– but my point from the beginning has been that there are those that agree with the Bible, that are credible on its historicity and that one need not believe that the door is closed and those that believe the Bible are wrong.
It’s always been about worldview, just not how you have constructed the argument in your mind.
Again, I’m not trying to prove the atheist he was wrong. He is, but I didn’t set out to prove it. I set out to say that there is evidence to the contrary and that it is credible. I set out to show this as a war of worldviews– which it is. And it is this point that we keep dancing around as you’re unwilling to admit it.
Despite repeated requests, you continue to fail to explain why the former Christian and now atheist changed his worldview. Sorry, it’s not a “war of worldviews”; this is simply a distraction from the point. He examined the Christian evidence and arguments–while a Christian–and found them entirely deficient. That’s when he changed.
.-= Robert´s last blog ..The unquenchable end-times thirst =-.