When Atheists Attack
Matt, from Matt’s Notepad, has taken me on in the comments section of this post about historical inaccuracies in the Bible, the Christ Myth, and Biblical contradictions. I’ve decided to split off and answer the comments in the blog because this last comment is a long one and will require more space than I’m generally comfortable giving to my comments section. I also think that it will benefit many readers who otherwise don’t read the comments section.
The historical inaccuracies [of the Bible] are many. Shall we start with some of the bigger ones? The Global Flood … never happened. Physically impossible for it to have happened and there is no evidence for it happening.
The Exodus from Egypt. Again, there is no evidence for it. It would have left Egypt in economic and social ruin but there are no records of such, not even from nearby nations that were enemies of Egypt from which many writings have been found and archived.
What about Esther? There is no record of a queen by that name at all anywhere.
Moving on to the New Testament. No record of any sort of large scale census at the time ordered by the Roman Empire. The idea that such a census was carried out is silly anyhow, especially the part about people having to return to the towns of their ancestors.
Much work has been done on what is called Flood Geology, thinking that the Global Flood from Genesis is the cause of all the Earth’s features: separate continents, sedimentary rock layers, fossil fuels, etc. Though this work contradicts mainstream science and such has been dismissed as pseudoscience, we shouldn’t be so hasty to do so. Remember that flood geology is part of Young Earth Creationism and as such we would expect it to contradict mainstream science, which works strictly from an evolutionary perspective.
That said, what about the lack of evidence for a Global Flood? That is debatable. Many cultures have the same basic story. I would consider that evidence for a Global Flood. But there is a startling notion for why archeology and paleontology haven’t found any concrete scientific evidence: the Flood may not have been global, despite the claims of creationists.
As for the Exodus, I can’t recall anyone asserting that it was false before now. I don’t know what sort of evidence that you would expect to find from it.
Objections to the historicity of Esther are answered here. Since Persian kings could have multiple wives, we have no need to worry about Esther not being mentioned in other historical texts. As only one of many queens married to one king, history may not have seen fit to record her name. As she was significant to the history of Israel, it is therefore far more likely that she would appear in the Bible than in other historical texts. Her presence in a historical text, by the way, is sufficient grounds to accept her historicity. The only time that this seems to become a problem is when only the Bible mentions someone. “Accept the historicity of everything at face value except for the Bible–then you need bulletproof corroborating evidence from 5,000 sources and even then don’t believe it because it is, after all, still the Bible” seems to be the skeptical motto.
For more information on the reliability of the Old Testament, I recommend checking out Josh McDowell’s very thick but very excellent book, Evidence for Christianity.
The idea of the census has been explored here. For more on the New Testament’s excellent reliability as a historical document, check the same book I linked to above.
I say: The Bible never contradicts itself. Every apparent contradiction has been dealt with satisfactorily. Research it. Matt replies:
No, they really haven’t. From the contradictory timelines given in Genesis to the huge differences in the Jesus stories in the gospels – none have been able to be explained away without using human subjective perspectives/corrections/suppositions. And the moment you do that, you wipe out any sort of historical accuracy you might otherwise claim.
The contradictory timelines in Genesis are dealt with at length here. As close together as the two accounts appear, I can only conclude that any so-called contradictions are intentional on the part of the author. As for differences in the Gospels, none are given (the point is asserted with no corroboration) so I can’t answer any. All I can do is point you here for principles on harmonizing the Gospels. I could also recommend a good Gospel synopsis.
I say: The small army [of prophets from around the same time as Christ] that is a footnote in history, while Jesus Christ becomes the focal point of history? That small army of prophets? Matt replies:
Indeed. The world is always full of self labelled prophets. Even some of the worst murderers in modern times have called themselves such but they’ve not gone down in history. Why? Go figure. But then some of the smallest people in life go on to be hugely recognised in death. Visual artists are a prime example of this.
No argument to refute. None of those people literally divide the centuries into the time before their birth and the time afterwards. Even the secular world uses that same common mark, despite trying to change the designations into the “Common Era” rather than “in the year of Our Lord.”
I say: No one I know has ever claimed that any of the examples [of deities] you mention changed their lives. Matt replies:
Obviously that would be because your society consists mostly of people that share your beliefs. Go back to ancient greece, norway or rome and you’ll see and hear people dying for their gods, sacrificing to their gods and saying their gods changed their lives.
As for your claim your link refutes the Mithras theory, it does not even mention Mithras. Now have you ever considered the legend of Mithras is so extraordinarily similar to that of Jesus? Even down to the same miracles, birth date, etc?
It isn’t true that my society consists mostly of people who share my beliefs. In fact, at work, only one manager and one employee aside from me happen to practice anything remotely close to Christianity. I work mostly with agnostics and atheists. As for the claim that in ancient people would say the same sorts of things about their deities that I say about Jesus, that’s a safe claim to make since we can’t go back in time to witness that stuff. But show me some writings where people say how profoundly they have changed by surrendering to those higher powers. I haven’t seen any–but from the Resurrection to now, we can find numerous examples of just that from Christians.
Finally, I apologize for giving you the wrong link: this is the link that refutes the Mithra connection.