May 28, 2009

The Case Against Lee Strobel

Posted in Answering Apologists, Atheism tagged , , , at 8:00 pm by Andrew

Answering another email question, this time about the occasional asides I’ve made here against Lee Strobel.

Let me say this: the works of Lee Strobel are one of the things that crystallized my atheism. As a Christian, as an argument for Jesus/Christianity/theism, I think he has absolutely no credibility; as a person, I think he has absolutely no scruples. Here’s my case:

Please understand that I say this because I think Christians should put their best arguments forward. I think it’s unfair, for example, to tar all Christians with having to defend Fred Phelps, and I bristle when atheists suggest that there’s no difference between Phelps and any other Christian. Of course there is.

So let me be clear: I do not think Christianity is false because Strobel is a liar. I do, however, think that Christians should be aware of the fact that Strobel is a liar, and I think that Christians should not commend his books to seekers.

Now, where’s my proof? Bear with me — this will take a while.

First, turn to page 101 of your copy of The Case For Christ (or click on this link). On that page, Strobel is attempting to answer one of the most common objections to the historicity of the Gospels — the conflict between the date of the Nativity as set forth in Luke versus Matthew. The problem is this:

Luke 2:1-2 claims that Jesus was born while Quirinus was governor of Syria, and pursuant to a census that we know from the historian Josephus could have only taken place after Herod the Great died, and after his successor, Archelaus, was deposed. But Matthew 2:1-3 claims that Jesus was born when Herod the Great was still alive — possibly two years before he died. (See also Matthew 2:7-16).

Since Quirinius was not governor until 6 CE, and Herod died in 4 BCE, these two passages seem to contradict each other. (I note also that Josephus dates the census, under Quirinius, to 6 CE.)

Here’s how Strobel attempts to resolve the problem. He posits that there was either a second Quirinius, who was proconsul in Syria from 11 BCE to the death of Herod, or that Quirinius was governor on two subsequent occasions, one of which coincided with the rule of Herod the Great.

So far, that’s pretty reasonable. But what’s Strobel’s evidence? Again, let’s quote him directly, from the bottom of page 101:

“An eminent archaeologist named Jerry Vardaman has done a great deal of work in this regard. He has found a coin with the name of Quirinius on it in very small writing, or what we call ‘micrographic’ letters. This places him as proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 B.C. until after the death of Herod.”

The problem is that Jerry Vardaman is not an “eminent archaeologist.” He’s a complete and utter crackpot — described by other professionals as “insane” — who fabricated a story beyond all reasonable belief. Go ahead; click the link, or you can read my summary below.

Vardaman claims to have found coins from the Roman empire with teeny-tiny letters inscribed upon them that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. In these ‘microletters’ — seen only by Vardaman — we find the reference to the second Quirinius (and all sorts of other crackpot claims).

Now, there are a few obvious problems with Vardaman’s claims:

1. Vardaman has never published any of his accounts in any peer-reviewed journal, or ever subjected his work on ‘microletters’ to any critical review of any kind by any other party.

2. Vardaman has never produced any of the coins that he claims contain micrographic letters! Nor has he produced, say, photo enlargements of the coins. Instead, he’s produced hand-written drawings of what he says the coins look like!

3. Comically, those drawings of coins dating back to the first century CE contain the letter ‘J’ — even though the ‘J’ was not invented for another nine centuries! This is like finding a painting said to be a Rembrandt but noticing that the subject is wearing a digital watch and eating a bag of Doritos!

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of other obvious errors in Vardaman’s so-called “scholarship;” go read it for yourself.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: perhaps this is just sloppy work by Strobel. That would certainly serve not to commend his work, but it would not warrant my calling him a liar. I agree.

However, in late 2003, on “The Bible Answer Man” program, Lee Strobel as the guest was confronted about the Vardaman claims. In that format, Strobel said merely that he had not heard of the criticism and would check it out. (Unfortunately, I cannot find a link to that audio; Strobel has also been confronted about these claims online dating back to 2004 parse Richard Carrier.)

More than two years later, on December 10, 2005, Lee Strobel repeated the same ‘Vardaman’ claims while appearing on the John Kasich program on FOX to discuss the so-called “War on Christmas” before an obviously very friendly audience. Strobel called Vardaman’s magic-Js-microletters-invisible-two-Quirinius-coins as “the strongest example of archaeological confirmation” that the Bible is true. Seriously. Go click the link.

Now, that statement is a lie. It’s a lie that any reasonable researcher — which Strobel claims to be — would have recognized as a lie from the moment he was told about it. And it’s a lie that Strobel was aware of in fact for more than two years after he was asked about it on “The Bible Answer Man.” It’s a claim so indefensible that it arose the ire of the folks at the Real Clear Theology blog — fellow conservative Christian apologists.

And that is why I think Christians should avoid commending Lee Strobel to anyone.

Worse, Strobel’s entire schtick is that of a journalist. Take a look at how Strobel describes himself on the jacket of The Case For Christ:

As a seasoned journalist with a Yale law background, Strobel systematically tracks down his leads and asks the blunt, tough questions you would want to ask — questions that can make or break the Christian faith. He refuses contrived, simplistic answers. … The Case for Christ reads like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But, it’s not fiction. It’s a riveting journey to the truth about the most remarkable event in history: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And it’s a revealing, personal testimony to his power to transform people yet today — even the most case-hardened, cynical journalist.

(emphasis added)

And if you’ve ever heard Strobel speak, you know he milks this angle for all it’s worth. “I ask the tough questions,” claims Strobel.

My point in this post is simply that Strobel’s rhetoric does not match reality; the Vardaman example shows this beyond a shadow of a doubt. Is it conceivable, in the least, that Strobel asked even one moderately difficult question here? (Let me offer a suggestion: “Hey, can I see your magic coin with the invisible letters?” — that would have been a nice starting point!)

Of course not.

The Vardaman example shows exactly the kind of approach Strobel takes to these “interviews.” They are not the “critical” “hard-hitting” questions of a “cynical” journalist — they are the exact opposite; they’re uncritical, unquestioning, sycophantic suck-ups to people who share only the very narrow ideological point Strobel wants to advance in the first place.

Now, I guess people enjoy Strobel’s one-sided “journalism” — where he asks the easiest, most leading questions of cherry-picked experts who support (but do not oppose) his narrow view of the supposed “evidence.” Strobel is certainly a very wealthy man; he’s sold millions of books and has his own TV show. But I find him to be thoroughly disingenuous.

Are there other examples? Absolutely. The Case For A Creator is one big series of lies, from the very first pages where Strobel uncritically repeats Jonathan Wells’ utterly false claims that biology textbooks today teach that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny (see pp. 20-21) to the chapter on Behe that asks no critical questions (despite the fact that Behe, under actual cross-examination in Kitzmiller v. Dover, was completely shredded), it’s all vintage Strobel. The chapter on Jonathan Wells, for example, has Strobel asking a “question” that paraphrases a Discovery Institute press release almost word-for-word!

Again, all I can say is that if you’re using Strobel as an outreach tool, you are going to get burned. Despite his protestations to the contrary, Strobel is simply not a reporter doing “interviews.” He’s a propagandist feeding leading questions to sympathetic supporters who are going to give Strobel the predetermined, agreed-upon-in-advance answers that he’s seeking. Maybe that’s useful if you want to “fire up the faithful,” but it isn’t going to convince a skeptic.

And that’s the Case Against Lee Strobel.

About these ads

385 Comments »

  1. Barry said,

    Actually it is time to call for Strobel to produce the tapes from his interviews. They read very much like fictionalized history(meaning not journalistic) to me. Too bad there isn’t a credible, thoughtful Christianity agency to test the authenticity of the books’ interviews.

    • Don’t you think the scholars he includes would let people know if those interviews never happened? Your skepticism is over the top!

      • Michael L said,

        All of the points made on this webpage about Lee Strobel are opinionated and not of proven fact.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Well, unfortunately, as nice a guy as Lee S. seems to be, he did get it wrong in several cases. One of his primary tenets is this: Since witnesses at the time of the Resurrection (i.e., the event where Jesus gets up out of the ground after being dead for a few days) have no reason to lie, therefore the event must be true, which proves the Resurrection based on the testimonial of witnesses. We foolish logicians know that this is not how evidence is produced. In other words, because someone reports a unicorn to be in the room when no one else can see it except the `initiate’, i.e., those able to see unicorns, this does not mean that therefore unicorns exist. This is false logic, cherry picking, non sequitur … I could mention more fallacies, but … n’uff said. The witnessing is not proof of the Resurrection; it is merely a story that becomes truth only if someone wants to believe in the story. There is no way to prove this story. The danger that Lee S. brings to light is that he claims that his `research’ leads to a proof in the Resurrection, and bases much of his insight on the Gospel of Luke and his hand-picked selection of Christian scholars. However, as I have repeatedly noted, the Resurrection is a reported story, and no scientific study was conducted to `prove’ Resurrection. As a matter of fact, no reported story of someone being dead for three days has ever been reproduced except as a story, or testimonial by witnesses without scientific evidence.

        • chaya1957 said,

          If someone is looking for a story of an atheist turned Christian, there is C.S. Lewis, who is no fraud. Lewis is not an evangelical and made that clear in an interview with a reporter for the Billy Graham Assoc.

          You need to understand something about the mindset of the evangelical world:

          1. A person who is “one of us,” i.e., adheres to our doctrine, is assumed to be honest and trustworthy and their narrative true. There is no fact checking necessary, and cognitive dissonance ignores all but the greatest preponderance of really disgusting evidence, and sometimes even that isn’t sufficient.

          2. Information from outsiders is assumed to be untrue, even if you have factual evidence, as you are “one of them,” the bad guys/gals, whose only purpose is to shoot down a, “man of God.”

          I learned something recently in a class in Behavioral Economics. One person asked what the best lie was. The answer was that the best lie was the one the target wants to believe.

          I would posit that one cannot employ Greek (logic) methodology to explore Hebraic concepts and works. Both sides may disagree on this. However, if a person claims to have a PhD, one can certainly ascertain if this is of the diploma mill variety. If one claims to have grown up in the Mideast and they actually grew up in Kansas, that is also easy to discover. If someone claims to be a former terrorist, former criminal, former satanist, or former atheist, a little sleuth work turns up the truth.

          If this was a Christian site, any intelligent arguments would have been deleted and the commenter blocked.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          And why is it that a person can’t employ Greek logic toward `Hebraic ideas’? If we’re talking midrash, maybe not. But the New Testament isn’t Hebraic, especially since Paul detested the Circumcision Party, as evidenced in Galatians, for instance. St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas use Greek logic throughout their writings, and they were certainly no sluffers in critical thinking. The one contention that I would have with atheists (not all atheists, just some) is that they do not allow for Christians to have a faith that is real to them. Where I have a problem with Christians (not all, just some) is that they harbor a secret knowledge, e.g., I commit to a risen Christ, and believe in everything that I think this commitment means, and if you don’t think like I do, well, you’re just wrong, and this secret knowledge becomes a quick-fix answer to all exploration of ideas. I’m fond of quoting Voltaire … `Beware of the friend who has all of the answers and none of the questions;’ there’s certainly nothing wrong with asking the question, `did a guy named Jesus get up out of the ground after being dead for several days, talk to His followers, disappear into the night and leave it for others to attest to His Resurrection?’ For many, this is a comfort and leads them to concepts that Paul wrote about … faith, hope, and love (Corinthians I). If this exploration and commitment to Jesus as the Christ keeps the Christian away from drugs and gives purpose and meaning to life, I’m all for it. I’m just not fond of Christians that cling to their beliefs without exploration and use it as sort of a voodoo to hex all others that disagree with what they believe, e.g., if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, you’re going to get it from the Devil. Alas !

        • chaya1957 said,

          I would disagree with your take on Paul, as translations are both biased and agenda driven, especially by the wolves that Paul predicted would arise up among them following his death, and they haven’t left.

          Even though the NT is written in Greek, the authors thought Hebraically. If you are interested, you can look into the works of Mark Nanos, Brad Young, Lois Tverberg, David Negley, Skip Moen and others.

          Paul and the other authors did not think or interpret torah like medieval Christian theologians, (or modern ones.) Rabbinic methodology is very different. I don’t know Greek, but it appears that much of Paul’s writings are midrashic, and that is why they are, “hard to understand and twisted.”

          To judge Hebraic thought via Greek logic seems like employing algebra to parse a violin concerto by a virtuoso, which might be accomplished. However, it wouldn’t be terribly effective or meaningful.

          Einstein said the definition of insanity was to repeat the same behavior and expect a different result, and apologetics has won few atheists/agnostics to Christianity. However, they are successful at preaching and selling to the choir, which is their greatest need anyway, as 80% of their children abandon church/faith once in college.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          The problem with referring to Paul’s writings is that there is disagreement about which writings are actually Paul’s. Romans, Thessalonians I, Corinthians I and II, Philemon, and Galatians are considered `historical’, and the rest fall under considerable doubt.

          As to whether or not Paul is influenced by Greek thought … this issue is debated by scholars to no final resolve. Was Paul aware of Hellenic thought and did it permeate his thinking? Of course. Paul spoke and wrote Greek, sometimes with fault (I speak Greek, though modern, and admittedly, am weak in a good portion of middle Greek, or Biblical Greek, which is why have to rely on others as authorities in this area). However, when learning another language, it becomes impossible to separate from the influences of the culture that come with language. Paul is certainly a Jew when approaching Jesus. However, according to his vision, Jewish law, as understood by the Circumcision Party, James, Peter and the like, is anathema, and washing of hands and other Jewish customs are not important to salvation.

          The question remains: Is Paul influenced by Greek thinking or is this merely his own vision? Is he trying to grasp a higher power that runs along the lines of a Platonic influence, or is he merely on his own in his thinking?

          There is quite a bit of debate about this issue. Personally, I would tend to think that Paul is on his own in his line of thinking, but the argument is not definitive.

          What is interesting is that Paul thought the world would come to an end in his lifetime in Thessalonians I. Paul indicates that the Resurrection is an event where first the dead, and then afterward Paul and the rest of the Christians would be resurrected in a single moment as the Son appeared on the clouds of heaven as mentioned in Daniel 7:13.

          Paul dies, as we know, and this event never occurs. Thessalonians II mentions that the Resurrection will come later, which is one reason why scholars believe that Thessalonians II was written by a later author using Paul’s name.

          It’s difficult to say with precision exactly who Paul was and what led him to his beliefs, but one thing is certain, he didn’t always agree with the disciples, and may have been severely at odds with their form of Judaism. How midrash affects Paul is difficult to say.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Knowing Greek must be very helpful. I know it is the traditional line, but I don’t go for, “Jesus killed torah; Paul nailed the coffin shut and the church shoveled dirt on top.” Well, the church part is right. I would suggest looking at alternative interpretations and checking to see if the Greek lines up.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Well, I will agree that Paul certainly didn’t `nail the coffin shut’; if anything, Paul left the tomb open and the gospels supplied details of which Paul was most likely not even aware.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Lois Tverberg teaches ALTJT – Acts literal test of Jesus theories. In other words, look at what was done in the Book of Acts to prove/disprove your theories. Lots of good articles on academia.edu and google scholar if you have time to read.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          I am always wary of books that claim to `prove/disprove’ in the field of historical theology, especially since we can only assume likely/unlikely. After all, historical theology is not physics or chemistry, where the `test’ provides certainty at a much greater level.

          It would obviously be absurd to assume that the Book of Acts was: (1) definitely written by a guy named Luke, the companion of Paul; (2) that all events were historical; (3) that Paul and Peter really did get along after all (as indicated in the counsel in the first part of Acts). There is sharp disagreement between reports in Galatians, that Paul went to meet with the big three (Peter, James, John) after traveling through Arabia first, whereas in Acts, Paul goes directly to the big three to `get their approval’, which is not his purpose in Galatians. There are numerous discrepancies in Acts, and very little material that can be attested as something one could `prove’ to be historical information. The key problem is that much of the material doesn’t gel with Paul’s own reports in his letters. What is evident, though, is that Paul and the Circumcision Party were at odds, and even Acts provides indication of this, e.g., when Barnabas parts company with Paul.

          I tend to approach presentations as valid/invalid, and am always encouraged by a premise that leads to sound conclusions; however, with historical theology, there seems to be little that can be assumed to be the absolute definitive answer (I’m not including faith commitment in this statement, since it matters little to me whether or not someone believes Jesus got up out of the tomb; I’m more concerned with the contradictory statements in documentation that cause confusion about definition of what `Resurrection’ really means to members of the early Church).

        • chaya1957 said,

          Well, since you know Greek, I would like to see what you think of the new perspectives, such as http://www.amazon.com/Galatians-Debate-The-Contemporary-Interpretation/dp/0801047277/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1398272195&sr=8-4&keywords=mark+nanos

          Nanos has a number of papers on academia.edu

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Galatians 2:11 is one of the key lines in Galatians that comes under discussion. Paul confronts Peter because he doesn’t want to eat with those who are unclean, the Gentile Christians who don’t wash their hands as Jews do. Paul says he `got up in Peter’s face as he stood condemned (many translations use the word `condemned’, but I prefer a milder `apart from knowledge’ . In either case, Paul clearly accuses Peter of misunderstanding that Jewish law is a hindrance to commune between Jews and Gentiles, and this point resurfaces in Corinthians and Thessalonians, and is certainly noted in Acts, even though the author of Acts plays the conflict between the Circumcision Party and Paul down. Apocryphal documents such as the Epistle of Barnabas, which condemns Jews because they trust in the Old Testament God, who the writer condemns as a false God inferior to the New Testament God. The conflict between Peter and Paul, where Peter is following James’ emphasis on keeping the Jewish customs such as circumcision and hand-washing, is certainly noted by many apocryphal writers and becomes a point of contention in the second and third century, where Iraneus, for instance, reacts against the separationist idea that following Jewish custom as a way to salvation is heretical in his writings, Against Heresies.

          No matter how Galatians 2:11 is translated, it certainly indicates that Paul is displeased with Peter’s reaction to the Gentile Christians, or the uncircumcised Christians, and there is no doubt that `got up in his face’ is meant to be critical of Peter, and by assumption, James, the brother of Jesus, who is mentioned in the same passage as the source of where the persons who influenced Peter not to eat with the Gentile Christians were from.

          There is little debate about there being an actual conflict between Peter and Paul, especially when supported by other reference in the New Testament and in apocryphal literature that indicates that Jewish Christians didn’t like the idea that Gentile Christians didn’t follow Jewish customs, and believed that they were not true followers of the Christ.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Ceremonial hand washing is not torah but custom, as well as separation of Jews and gentiles so the Jews would not learn their idolatrous ways, and also not accidentally become tamei (ritually unclean) and therefore unable to visit the temple. If you read the book of Acts, you will see Paul remained a loyal, torah following Jewish man, and denied it when he was accused of speaking against Moses – a code to mean speaking against torah. If this is what he meant to do, that would have been the perfect time to validate their accusations.

          Interesting that Christians slaughtered Jews in the middle ages who survived the plague, as it was believed their greater survival numbers revealed that they were poisoning the wells by witchcraft. However, one Jewish tradition is to wash hands when one wakes up, prior to eating and after being in the marketplace. Might have had some connection?

          We can certainly imagine how Peter and Paul would have come into conflict; Peter had spent 3 years learning from Jesus and his social environment likely didn’t involve gentiles. Paul grew up in Tarshish, even though he would have studied in Jerusalem with Gamelial, and was sent to the gentiles, so understood and sympathized with them.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          I agree, hand washing is custom, not law, per se, but many Jews in Paul’s time still would have perceived Paul to be departing from deep-rooted tradition. There is no doubt that Paul maintained his Jewish roots. There were so many changes in belief systems and tradition going on within the early first century that it is no small wonder that whenever a statement was presented as an element of faith or belief, it would immediately come into question. Paul has to deal with changes in the Corinth Church and a breaking away by some of the members as they form their own ideas or come under the influence of the Circumcision Party, as evidenced in Corinthians II. It seems that Paul was less interested in establishing a long-term Church than he was at sustaining a short-term one until the Second Coming occurred within his lifetime, as he would have us believe would be happening as evidenced in Romans I:6 and Thessalonians I, 4:16. As the Second Coming doesn’t actually happen in Paul’s lifetime, the Church has to amend its views, and as a result, Peter II speaks of God’s `day’ as potentially `1000 years’, a good reason why Peter didn’t write this letter. Tradition as passed on by the original witnesses, whatever it was specifically, was modified very quickly within the early Church as world events don’t align with expectations.

        • chaya1957 said,

          We all apply our biases to scripture. It might help to attempt to get a better grasp on the purposes of the letter writers by examining other writings of the times, especially the ancient Jewish sages.

          Keeping in mind that Paul was a learned rabbi, can you sift his writings through that lens? Rabbis were given the authority to make local halacha. Note that Jesus validated this with Peter, as binding and loosing has nothing to do with demons and everything to do with allowing and disallowing practices.

          I don’t know if this is possible, but since you know Greek, can you read it as if you were a young child and didn’t know anything of Christian doctrine or teaching?

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Paul may be a learned rabbi, but he certainly is not just a learned rabbi. Keep in mind, he speaks and reads Greek, and has to be aware of Greek literature or philosophy, since it would be impossible to be schooled in Greek without some exposure to Plato, Aristotle, and the pre-Socratics; people who became educated learned language through studies of the literature along with studies of language.

          Paul’s Greek is certainly not scholarly Greek, but he does have a command of the language. He writes in Greek in his letters, not Hebrew. He speaks Greek to the people in his churches, primarily comprised of Greeks Paul is somewhat Hellenic in his thinking along with his rabbinical background. It is impossible to see Paul merely as a rabbi. His thinking departs from mere rabbinical thinking, and he’s not a typical Jew. Most Jews were uneducated and couldn’t read in the first century. Paul is exceptional. He’s schooled in Greek, he’s a Roman citizen, and he’s a Jew.

          I actually distrust anything I read about Paul until I explore what his letters say, and what other letters ascribed to Paul that he didn’t write say (Thessalonians II, Timothy I and II, Titus, Colossians, and Ephesians [or at least a good portion of it], and what the apocryphal writings do with his thinking or react to what people believed he was saying.

          Although there are some discrepancies with language, and with the Greek, even someone who is not totally schooled in Greek can understand what Paul is saying (there are plenty of good transliteration reference books). When Paul says, “I got up in Peter’s face”, the translation may be slightly different according to each scholar’s approach, but one thing cannot be disputed: Paul was peeved at Peter, and his language is intended to be understood as displeased with Peter’s thinking.

          I’m one of those rare people who actually reads the New Testament several times a year (and by read, I mean fine-tooth comb) along with several books from the Old Testament, especially since Paul, Jesus, the author of Hebrews, and several other writers of the New Testament, were schooled in the Old Testament. Of course, the Old Testament writings are misrepresented; for instance, Isaiah was not writing about Jesus in the `second book’ of Isaiah writings (Chapter 53 thereon), or those passages alleged to be predicting the coming of Jesus. However, the passages are studied by later personage such as the Bishop Papias, Iraneus, Clement of Alexandria, and others, as well as by Paul himself, and are used to allude to Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, in different forms. Paul certainly is a rabbi, but he interprets the Jewish literature different than other Jews.

          Keep in mind, Paul holds his vision on the road to Damascus as his `secret weapon’; he says that he knows something that James and Peter doesn’t based on his vision, not his rabbinical interpretation of the Old Testament writings (I don’t include all writings, because not all Jews thought that Zechariah, for instance, was `the gospel truth’.

          Paul’s Jewish background is influential in his letters and doctrine, but it would be a complete misrepresentation of Paul to assume he is merely a rabbi. His education and his thinking are more `global’; even Marcion of the second century, who uses select letters of Paul letters and the Gospel of Luke as his only sources to be trusted as `scripture’ or `gospel truth’, does not trust all of what Paul says, and departs from Paul’s thinking by separating the Old Testament God from the one represented in the New Testament as cruel and mischievous instead of loving. Paul seems to represent Christ as the loving servant of God, but still refers to a time (Thessalonians 1, 4:12) when with the Second Coming, Jesus will appear on the clouds of heaven according to Zechariah 7:12, which most Jewish Christians in the late first century and early second century believed was a time when the good went to heaven, the bad were `left behind’. Paul certainly got caught up in the apocalyptic beliefs of Jews that evolved after the Maccabean revolt, and his influence carried over into the next couple centuries, and became grounds for hot debate, controversy, and even warring between different Christian factions, even to date.

        • chaya1957 said,

          You might like to look over http://www.jerusalemperspective.com/ as they get into the Greek. It is certainly an advantage to know the language. I understand there are a number of places in the NT where the Hebrew/Aramaic is not translated, but rather transliterated.

          Of course Paul, growing up in the diaspora, experienced Greek influences and was conversant with the philosophy of the day, although I suspect he didn’t receive a Hellenistic education, as he called himself a Pharisee and said he was blameless according to torah, which wouldn’t be the case if he joined the Hellenists in their forbidden practices of idolatry, unclean foods and nude physical exercise. He certainly understood and could relate to the gentiles in a way Peter likely could not. We know he quoted a Greek poet Aratus: (Acts 17:28): “For ‘in him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ’For we too are his offspring.’” I looked this up and discovered this poem was an invocation to Zeus.

          When you mentioned that Jews were illiterate, were you referring to illiteracy in Greek? We know literacy was high, and every male studied with a teacher, and a typical common fisherman like Peter would have memorized most of the torah, along with portions of the prophets, writings and works of the sages. Most women were also literate, as they were expected to teach their children and be able to say the women’s prayers. They would attend the synagogue weekly where the portion was chanted (easier to memorize) say the prayers and someone would be called to give a drash – a short sermon or commentary, as Yeshua did when called to speak and the haftorah was Isaiah 61.

          I believe education for common people lasted from age 6 to 12 – Bar Mitzvah age, while the educated class and those discovered with ability went on to study with a mentor rabbi in Jerusalem, as Paul studied under Gamaliel.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          By illiteracy, I mean (1) Peter and company couldn’t write, read or effectively use rhetoric. None of the letters ascribed to the disciples (Peter I and II, James [brother of Jesus], Jude [another brother of Jesus]), and John I, II and III, which may have been some guy named `John’, but certainly not the disciple, were actually written by any of the disciples. They were Galileans, and there were no institutions that schooled them in writing. We get hints in the gospels of the defamatory way that people viewed Peter as a `Galilean,’ or illiterate, as he shows up in the nearby courtyard crowd during the time Jesus is brought to trial and undergoes his `denial’ utterances.

          Paul enjoys success in the early spread of Christianity as an outsider and former tormentor of the disciples precisely because he is literate, schooled in Greek rhetoric, can speak a couple languages, and is educated. Compared to the disciples, he can run circles around them in terms of education. There is power in command of language. By modern terms, Paul’s presentations in his letters are flawed, but that’s because evidence-based thinking, apart from a few pre-Socratics, Democritus, for instance, had yet to catch on. I doubt that Paul was schooled in the pre-Socratics to any extent. But beyond a doubt, Paul is exposed to Hellenic thinking. It was not possible to learn Greek as a foreign language to any extent without learning it through the literature. Paul’s Greek is not great, but is certainly not a smidgeon of slang that two fishermen might exchange for the sake of exchanging a few coins.

          Paul, no doubt is a Jew, and thinks of himself as a Jew, but is by no means the typical Jewish rabbi. He would have, and did, offend many Jews, because he, as did a huge portion of the early Christians, as evidence by St. Justin Martyr in the second century, and even the letter to the Hebrews, whoever wrote it, offend Jews and change the meaning of the writers in the New Testament. Isaiah wasn’t writing about Jesus; Daniel was not predicting Jesus. They may have written about a messianic figure, but Isaiah was probably writing about someone within his time period, someone who would become a liberator or the next person from the Davidic line who would occupy the throne sometime between the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Okay, so by “illiterate,” you mean illiterate in Greek language and education. Isn’t some of this a value judgement? Paul said that he counted his great education (I would assume secular as well as religious) as worthless in comparison (not worthless in totality) of his knowing Messiah. Paul also spoke about those who profess themselves wise, but are fools, those who are ever learning, but never come to a knowledge (da-at) of the truth. He spoke in I Cor. 1:27-28 of God choosing the foolish and weak things of the world to confound the wise and strong. I believe that Paul was thinking in his native Hebrew/Aramaic language while he spoke and wrote in Greek, and if we look to what the original might have been, it could help in understanding the text.

          I suspect Peter and the Jerusalem leaders had Greek speaking scribes that translated or took down their letters. I think it would be fascinating if any of these ancient works surfaced. :) If Peter wasn’t a great academic, he was certainly street-smart. I love his famous description of, “those who would make merchandise of you,” and few pay attention to this warning.

          In the US Jewish community of today, a person without at least an undergraduate degree would be considered illiterate, and a male without more advanced education or equal acumen as not much better.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Keep in mind, when I say that Peter & company were `illiterate’, I didn’t include Paul, who was literate. There is no reason to speculate that Peter may have had scribes preparing his letters. The letters of Peter are suspect. Peter II, for instance, has the noted passage that the expectation for the day of Jesus’ return is not to be adjudged as soon, because in God’s eye, a day could be 1000 years. However, Paul, in Thessalonians I, 4:16, indicates that Jesus’ resurrection, or second coming, will occur during his lifetime. Peter II is most likely written well after Peter is gone; the emphasis on the expectation of Jesus’ resurrection or second coming at a future time is most likely because He never appeared on the clouds of heaven as indicated in Daniel 7:13, what Paul was waiting for, and the Church had to amend its emphasis as given from the apostolic tradition (or the parousia, second coming tradition) to keep its membership intact. There is no reason to believe that Peter had his letters translated to Greek; he was not a representative to the Greek (or Gentile) churches. Paul was, as Paul clearly indicates in Galatians, i.e., that he would go to the Gentiles, or uncircumcised, and Peter & company would go to the Jews, or the circumcised.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Kenn, since you know Greek, I will accept your superior knowledge on this. Since Peters letters are written in Greek, they obviously were either written by a person who knew the language, or translated/transcribed by one who did.

          Would you believe I was just having a discussion about Strobel? What do you think of this assumption that a person, “sincerely loves the Lord even if we don’t agree on everything?” This is something I feel cannot be judged one way or another by one who doesn’t know the person. But if someone makes claims, they can either be validated or not. If I claim to have a Ph.D, you can check and see if my diploma is fake.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Here’s a great issue for debate ! When someone says, “I sincerely love the Lord,” how can one say he’s sincere? The Calvinists would say, “you can’t know because God predetermined who’s saved, and it’s up to God to determine what `sincere’ means.”

          Obviously, we have many factions of Christianity, Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others, who all claim to know something to be true that others don’t. Catholics believe in the literal changing of wafer and wine into Jesus’ body and blood, Lutherans see it as symbolic (most), and Presbyterians aren’t too concerned either way. Historically, this has been a cause for separation between Christians, where many Christians will profess to be loving toward others but not so loving when involved in debate over who’s `right’. Perhaps the Calvinists got it right.

        • chaya1957 said,

          I was having a discussion about the widespread fraud in Evangelicalism, using Strobel as one example. The reply I received was, “I may not agree with Strobel, but I am sure he ‘loves the Lord,” …” I would ask, “How do you know this?” If I do not know someone personally, I have no way of knowing if they, “love the Lord,” anymore than I know if they floss daily.

          I have my own, “out there,” take on Christian internecine warfare: http://endtimechaverim.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/healing-the-curses-of-christianity-and-spreading-the-restoration/

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          I would have to agree wholeheartedly with your response. There would be no way of knowing if someone truly `loved the Lord’. The philosopher William of Occam said, and I’m paraphrasing, `each of us sees God differently as He sits on His throne.” It’s very difficult for any two people to know for sure that they see the same `Lord’, which in itself is a leap of faith, and equally hard to determine the gradation of love that one has for the `Lord’, since there is no precise love scale.

    • Michael L said,

      You are so foolishly speaking. His interviews were ALL real!! The very fact that he has spoken to some of the most notable scholars in their fields. Some of which cosign the book!!

      The very fact that an atheist would say what you just said shows the depths that you are willing to peddle your lies.

      So Christians all lie and Atheists all tell the truth according to you!

      I don’t lie to ANYONE. I have no need to. The truth is much more fun.

      What is funny about what you are trying to peddle is that you are saying it as if you have this need to discredit the work because it is profound if it be true! Well, That right there shows how much you are willing to lie to even your own self to continue believing the nonsense you believe.

      • Kenn Pappas said,

        Not all atheists are bad people or wrong in their conclusions. Not all Christians are bad people or wrong in their conclusions. Christianity is a controversial subject … . If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have so many denominations. Those who explore the history of Christianity in depth will see how controversial the topic is. For instance, most people don’t realize that the earliest original document of any gospel we now possess is at best circa 170 ad. Many of the letters said to be written by Paul were not actually written by Paul. Many Christians who truly believed in Jesus as the Christ in the first few centuries did not believe He died in the flesh, nor did they believe he was born of a virgin, nor did they believe he was an actual Son of God, but more like an adopted son of God, just a guy God recognized as someone special, but not a member of the Godhead (e.g., the Trinity).

        I don’t refer to myself as an atheist merely because I don’t believe in a particular definition of God. We existentialists have our own way of approaching God; each existentialist is a bit different in his approach. However, as an existentialist, I’m careful to respect everyone’s commitment to his personal God … until he uses his belief in God to bash what everyone else thinks by pretending he is possessed by a secret knowledge that makes him superior to all critical thinkers, many of which can be atheists or existentialists, or Buddhists, or people who just like to play Texas Hold `Em.

    • Michael L said,

      Got news for you Atheists. Kitzmiller vs Dover certainly doesn’t do in Christianity like you think it does. SO WHAT if our Courts side against the Bible. The arguments used by those Christians were not good. Big deal! They are a few people! I would love to have testified on behalf of Christianity. If I had it would be being taught in schools today. Not as the truth. But as a faith. History.

      • Kenn Pappas said,

        Well, Christianity is taught in schools. Did you miss your Medieval philosophy class in college? Did you read brilliant thinkers like John Scotus, Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine … the list goes on and on. One of the reasons Christianity is not taught in elementary or high school is that it would be offensive to many people, including Christians. For instance, it would offend some Christians to read that Timothy I and II were, in all likelihood, not written by Paul, or that there are contradictory passages between Galatians and Acts that cannot be rectified, and that Christians struggled with these contradictions until Constantine put a temporary end to the struggle with the synods. It would also offend many Christians to know that none of the gospels were signed by their respective writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (I won’t include the Gospel of Philip, Peter, Nicodemus, Thomas or others which were not recognized by Constantine, Eusebius, and his other minions). Christianity does offer an intriguing history, but it would never hold water in elementary or high school because … the forefathers of this country, in their wisdom, determined that due to the myriad ways that people come to the Christian faith, Catholics, Lutherans (Missouri Synod and the rest of them, yes, there are many Lutherans that don’t talk to other Lutherans), Presbyterians, and others, and due to the many people that don’t come to the same conclusion about God that Christians do, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and others, it would be best to leave the Bible out of the curriculum. Nobody, though, prohibits anyone from studying the Bible in school at college level.

    • Michael L said,

      If I knew another way to leave a comment I would but I have to reply to Barry just to leave a comment.

      //The problem is that Jerry Vardaman is not an “eminent archaeologist.” He’s a complete and utter crackpot — described by other professionals as “insane” — who fabricated a story beyond all reasonable belief. Go ahead; click the link, or you can read my summary below.//

      SO, because you found reports online that suggest Vardaman is a crackpot that means he is? LOL! You atheists put out your own propaganda and then later on quote it as evidence of your beliefs. I see you people do this kind of nonsense all the time.

      • Kenn Pappas said,

        I’m not an atheist (I prefer the title `existentialist’) nor do I think of Jerry V. as a `crackpot’, but there certainly is reason to give his research some consideration. After all, the whole idea that the Resurrection can be presented as a `factual’ event merely because witnesses reported it is somewhat incredible, especially since nobody to date has ever reproduced an event where someone has been dead for three days, and then walked about in a healthy manner again (unless, of course, you’re an avid believer in zombies).

  2. Ben said,

    EC,

    I don’t mean to be your keeper or anything, so I’m not going to harass you about this endlessly, but I don’t think you have a sufficient case here. If “asking the tough questions” meant exactly the same thing to every honest person, then you’d think everyone that says they do that would all agree. I’m sure you know that’s not the case. People often have their narrow of view of what constitutes critical thinking. That doesn’t make them liars. It just means they are coming from a different background than you or me and things seem different to them. To his credit, I’ve seen Strobel ask *popular* tough questions (and he ends up accepting horrible answers, but still), but I can’t help but notice you’ve picked out something rather obscure to bust him on. How many Christians even know about the Quirinius thing? The most likely scenario is that he heard the objection, but got distracted with something else before he looked into it. Who knows, maybe he didn’t really think the objection was credible. I’m sure Strobel has heard all sorts of horrible things about just about every Christian apologist he’s ever interviewed, so having yet one more source be called an insane crank is just par for the course. It seems Christian confidence snowballs into a sort of “red carpet” epistemology where they end up believing that God is laying out for them a perfect case to confirm their faith. They get enough confidence against the detractors and the objections start seeming less and less important. Whatever validation they had is so totally gold and God wants them to think just that. And they feel great spreading the joy. It’s uber confirmation bias.

    Obviously Strobel has come to accept the ideology of the people he interviews and maybe he can even lift questions directly from their websites. That doesn’t really mean anything. If I interviewed an atheist, I might well ask a common tough question that’s on their website. That doesn’t make me uncritical if I ask a variety of other questions.

    Perhaps you and I might think that the ID case got “shredded” in cross examination in the court battle, but obviously ID proponents don’t have to be liars to walk away with a different impression as is so often the case in just about every debate since the dawn of debate.

    I’ve seen Strobel on Faith Under Fire videos and he comes across as much more honest than he does in his books. Since he actually has interviews with people that don’t agree with him and thus you can see how he interacts on those terms. I’ve been impressed. You can see his answer to why his books are one sided on the Friendly Atheist’s website (link). But, who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. I think Barry is probably on the right track to see who is more correct. Until then, at best, I would call your case against Strobel just a hypothesis.

    All in all Strobel’s positions are so typical of popular Christian culture that it doesn’t make sense for them to find a different spokesperson. Just show why he is wrong. That’s all you have to do. Calling him a liar isn’t helpful in my opinion.

    Ben

    • Chiefley said,

      Ben,
      I have to difffer with you on the ID problem. Jonathan Wells is no authority on any aspect of science and should not be quoted in a book that claims to be objective journalism. Furthermore, his arguments are extremely dishonest in that he uses every deceitful device one can imagine in his proposition.

      There is no scientific debate on the basic notions of the modern theory of evolution. It is so evident to thinking people that the mainstream denominations that represent some 80% of Christians worldwide have social statements embracing science and particularly citing the Theory of Evolution as being the best explanation for the diversity of life on the planet.

      I know that Christian denominations are not the authoritative sources for scientific conclusions, but even these denominations are unwilling to ‘lie for Jesus’. For example, the Episcopalians:

      http://www.episcopalchurch.org/19021_58398_ENG_HTM.htm

      The Presbyterians, UCC, United Methodists, ELCA Lutherans, and the Roman Catholic Church are all highly critical of claims put forth by Creationists and ID Proponents such as Jonathan Wells (who is a lawyer by the way). In fact, the Methodists recently passed a resolution that goes as far as calling ID intellectually dishonest and specifically recommends teaching it in any high school curriculum.

      If The Case For Creation is anything like Strobel’s other attempts at ‘journalism’, then he needs to be called out as a complete charlatan. With that book, Strobel is practicing a more measured, but no less dishonest version of Ann Coulter journalism.

      • Chiefley said,

        Correction: I meant to say…..

        In fact, the Methodists recently passed a resolution that goes as far as calling ID intellectually dishonest and specifically recommends *NOT* teaching it in any high school curriculum.

        • Ben said,

          Chiefley,

          I believe it is a fallacy of reification to say that a “dishonest argument” makes the person who uses it dishonest themselves. Any conservative creationist who at all engages the scientific community is going to get the label “liar” in 2.1 seconds if we allow so narrow an understanding of human psychology. You’d have to call virtually ALL of them liars and I just don’t think that’s reasonable as though there’s no evidence they actually believe in what they are saying. People back themselves into many twisted justifications to defend beliefs they honestly hold and they don’t realize they are doing it no matter how bizarrely far it may go. I’m sure there are some genuine creationist liars out there, but probably no more or less than their evolutionist counter parts on average. Perhaps those ratios are not equal (I have no idea), but the bottom line is we don’t call people liars unless we can prove it. And them just using arguments we don’t approve of, or lame tactics is not good enough proof to demonstrate that conclusion. We can point out their errors easily if their arguments are so dubious while avoiding the ugly politics of the “liar, liar” game. It is lazy thinking on our part to so quickly compartmentalize people who disagree with us in this fashion and it makes us look bad when most creationists are going to know full well that they actually believe in what they are saying.

          Ben

        • Eyes&Love said,

          Which requires more faith – ID or evolution? Give the probabilities involved – probably ;-) evolution requires more faith. So faith is being taught in the schools – while one faith is censored out.

        • Galloway said,

          “Which requires more faith – ID or evolution? Give the probabilities involved” <- This is the kind of logic the Lee Stroebels of the world employ, and it is exactly the intellectually dishonest question that aggravates academics. Two logical fallacies are implied here. One is that whichever thing requires "less faith", that must be the true thing. Also implied is that evolution is somehow equal to ID in terms of being a faith-based concept, when that is not at all true. Evolutionary theory arose from observation, which is exactly the opposite of faith.

        • Michael L said,

          Evolution takes FAR more faith. Your ignorance is astounding.

          The one thing overlooked by every single person who believes in evolution is the problem of reproduction.

          There is no possible way the method of reproduction can change from mother to offspring.

          There are ZERO examples of this. There is one example of a special kind of insect that has two way of reproduction but it always has and always will.
          The reproduction method problem isn’t even understood by those who claim to believe evolution is true.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Here’s a major problem with questioning `evolution’ by denying reproduction as a valid attestation of evolution. We all know reproduction to actually happen … how? We actually see offspring born. We actually see a combination of characteristics. We actually see change in characteristics. And … we actually possess an archeological record of changes in species, new creatures that have developed that did not previously exist on this planet. We have actual dinosaur bones that can be accurately dated through the deterioration of carbon 13 and 14 isotopes, with a highly accurate rate of decay that can prove beyond a doubt that dinosaurs, for instance, went extinct some 160 million years ago, give or take a few hundred thousand years. Many doubters about evolution have claimed that because carbon dating is off a couple hundred thousand years, it is therefore flawed and cannot be used to accurately date when dinosaurs died out, and as a result, make a leap and say that carbon dating is no proof of evolution and that the world has only existed for approximately 6500 years based on an absurd claim by the Bishop Usser in the 1700s. Evolution is no longer a theory. It’s a factual, indisputable truth, with flaws, of course, as Darwin would have admitted. He did not claim to have every proof. S.J. Gould, for instance, introduces `punctuated equilibrium’ to indicate that cataclysmic events may have interrupted the consistency of evolution, and produces plenty of evidence in several of his books (my favorite is Ever Since Darwin). However, even S.J. Gould supports the idea that creatures evolved, that new creatures were created, and that not all creatures were created within a single moment, unlike a fundamentalist view as purported by some Creationists (not all, believe it or not).

        • chaya1957 said,

          I’ve messaged several creationist FB pages asking if they had anyone on staff that knew Hebrew, and of course didn’t receive an answer.

          I’ve chatted quite amicably with Dr. Jay Wile, a creationist nuclear chemist who admits that he spoke with several Hebrew scholars who express that the Hebrew does not line up with creationist theology, and I can attest to that.

          So, it seems YEC’s are attempting to defend something that is a foundation of their theology, but not present in the original language.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Any insight into why there are a growing number of young Jews who are becoming believers in the idea that the earth was created some 6500 or so years ago? I was surprised to speak with a group of young Orthodox Jews who held this belief, which I always assumed was a product of the Bishop Usser from the 17th century. Nice guys, but a little misguided, as are strict Creationists.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Would this be from Chabad? The age of man is not the same as the age of the earth. The Hebrew doesn’t support a time frame. I could explain it if you had time. Mostly to Jews this doesn’t matter, as the focus is on what one does, rather than what one believes, from Greek philosophy. I guess Usser didn’t know Hebrew? I have it on a bookshelf somewhere. The Hebrew dating is tradition and based upon the geneologies. We are in 5774 now. In other words, Jewish families, whether Orthodox or not, are not worried about “losing,” their children via the teaching of evolution, so don’t go around spreading hype to sell stuff. The Jewish community is more concerned about assimilation, intermarriage and low birthrate rather than theology.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Well, concerning the Bishop Usser, he tried to count up the years that the average person lived, Moses, Isaiah, Methuselah, and add the years together to come up with the idea that the earth is around 6500 years old, give or take. This idea permeated fundamentalist Christianity. Where I was surprised is that there are some Orthodox Jews who have adopted this absurd idea, unless my two young friends are misrepresenting what they’re telling me (they’re Orthodox Jews who visited Jerusalem for several months within the last two years). Obviously, this couldn’t possibly be mainstream thinking, but where this movement comes from, or how widespread it is, I wouldn’t know. I’m not sure if there is a direct connection to the Bishop Usser from the 17th century, but the parallel is hard to ignore. My two friends knew nothing of the Bishop’s existence.

        • chaya1957 said,

          http://www.jewfaq.org/calendar.htm You can scroll down to the part about years. Although the Hillel calendar, according to tradition, says that we are in year 5774, that doesn’t translate to scientific understanding. http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48951136.html

          The creation story in Genesis (Bereisheit) is poetry. Now, how many of your YEC’s and Evangelical theologians know that? A friend who knows Hebrew a whole lot better than I do explained that this narrative is made up of seven songs. Its not a history/science text.

          So, you are right; this has nothing to do with Usser. But I wonder if your Orthodox friends really translate this understanding to science, or this is just an explanation of tradition, where the year changes on Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah) which is not the birthday of the universe or the earth, but of the first man with a living soul.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          I don’t think most Jews dwell on the literal meaning of Genesis. Most thinkers understand the story to be poetry, I included.

          As a half-Jew (half-Greek, half Jewish) who was raised Greek Orthodox, but who chooses to embrace his Jewishness in terms of belonging in the world (whatever that means), I appreciate the poetry of the Genesis story, and wish that it could be understood as such. Since I have a Master of Arts in English, I can’t see how anyone could comprehend Milton’s Paradise Lost without a thorough knowledge and appreciation of Genesis, even if the Genesis story becomes reinterpreted as the fulfillment of Christ’s sacrifice to free man from his damnation due to original sin. It’s too bad that most Christians do not see that much of the Old Testament writing were written in poetic stanzas, and were not intended to be perceived as literal truth

        • chaya1957 said,

          Cognitive dissonance. It is not that they don’t know; they don’t want to know. I like the example of Rabbi David Fohrman in one of his videos on http://www.alephbeta.org, where he talks about a very rich man who wants to buy 5,000 square feet to build a ranch home in the middle of Manhattan. Now, the realtor tells him that he can have his 5,000 sq. ft., but he must build up; the ranch home is impossible for any amount of money. And this is what torah does; in a few lines of text that cover centuries of time and important knowledge, it is up to the student to mine for treasure. I believe this fits with Yeshua’s teaching that truth is hidden from the wise and mighty, and revealed to those with a humble heart, to those the world overlooks as unimportant and despises.

          Whether these writings are true in a Greek/logic/scientific sense or not really doesn’t matter. What is important is that the eternal truth and moral lessons they contain is true, in the sense of Hebraic wisdom.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Genesis is a wonderful story. However, it does not serve too well as a instructive book for the modern thinker. For instance, man is kicked out of Paradise for eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. Adam and Eve don’t know that eating fruit is wrong; they lack knowledge because they haven’t yet tasted of the fruit of the tree of knowledge; as a result, they were `set up’ by God to eat the fruit. They were told not to eat the fruit, but they were merely curious and ate it. As a result, they are punished. Because God is a being who punishes or favors His people as a result of a `yea’ or `nay’ to his thinking on a collective conscious basis, he offers little to a modern thinker who views God on a one-to-one basis. There is no doubt the Torah is a series of rules and strictures set up to preserve a collective consciousness, where if a certain amount of individuals do not adhere to God’s ways, He favors or disfavors His people as a whole.

          The story of Abraham and Isaac is also a bit controversial. Abraham demonstrates his faith by carrying out God’s command to slay his son, and as many interpret, knows that God will send an angel to stay his hand. However, this is not actually stated in the writings. If Abraham were alive today, took his son to a rock and lifted a knife to his son, the DCFS would be all over him, put him away, take his child, ensure that he was convicted for attempted murder. Some of these stories are certainly entertaining, but hardly edifying.

          Genesis, though, does make a great base for a remarkable poem such as Paradise Lost, and for that reason, I’m glad it was written and that we still possess the document.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Kenn, since you mention you have Jewish ancestry, you would likely really enjoy looking at these passages/stories from a Jewish point of view, and I guarantee you will find a lot more, as you may only see the first floor of the multi-level building.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          The unique advantage that I have is being raised both Jewish and Greek Orthodox. I don’t practice either faith, except that for the most part, I do adhere to many of the food laws, i.e., no pork, no mixing of meat and milk, no shellfish or bottom crawlers. However, this is primarily from years of habit. One of my nieces asked my why I still practice these food laws, and I replied, `habit … tradition’, but I certainly wouldn’t call it a `faith’ per se. It’s more like not stepping on cracks on sidewalks, a gentle reminder that we all practice superstitions in some form or another, and … because it is part of a tradition where people holding some of my same blood practiced the same things for many different reasons, a connection to my roots.

          The Genesis story, as with many of the Jewish stories, is a perceived history of the Jewish people, and as many do not understand, was never intended to be taken as a literal history, but as stories giving rise to a people that belongs together under a single God, unique in history, since the Jewish writings of the Old Testament speak only of one God and cover a time period roughly between the 8th century to the 5th century B.C., though some of the influences of the Old Testament may go back further.

          I am not really a supporter of God as a creator of the universe. As I was fond of telling someone recently, at the time of Genesis, God allegedly created `the universe’, the perceived universe. Later in history, last century, the Hubble telescope showed us that our `universe’ was really just one galaxy, the Milky Way, and during the time of the writing of Genesis, there was no understanding of a galaxy, or billions of galaxies as we have today, nor of the idea that the universe is in many areas chaotic, hostile and violent such as in our local area, the planet Venus, full of acidic rain and poisonous gas, and supernovas and black holes that serve only to devour. If God created this universe, was he merely the local God, since the universe as represented was only a few planets and fixed stars at the writing of Genesis. As the universe expanded with our knowledge, then was God, our God, just a local God, and was He governed by a stratum of other Gods? Very possible, unless one completely ignores critical thinking as it is applied to creationist thinking.

          I’m not saying that one cannot commit to a faith in the universe being created by God as told in stories like Genesis. I’m just saying this: The stories ignore all aspects of science and discovery, are primitive ways of exemplifying what people didn’t know, since they had no telescopes and microscopes, and had to rely on their eyes and assumption rather than experiment and precise scientific devices. Of course, anyone can commit to any faith he or she chooses. A person can believe that at any time, he is being followed by a griffin that seeks to tear out his soul, visible to him but not to others, or a God who is caring when he perceives a good event in His life, and not responsible when he perceives a bad one (or responsible depending on how punitive this God really is). But there’s one thing for certain; this God cannot be proven to others, but merely accepted as an element of faith devoid of proof or evidence-based thinking.

          The stories, the poetry of David, the perceptions of the prophets as they warn of a turning of the people away from God, the interpretation of wars and triumphs and failures as directly connected with the vicissitudes of a God so powerful that no man can truly understand him, but must fear Him because He’s bigger than all human beings combined … this is certainly part of the entire story of Jewish literature. There are the individual triumphs of Ruth, David, Solomon, but these people are not without faults and foibles by today’s standards. God is the object of the destiny of the Jewish people, and the Jewish people are God’s true people, the rest of the world secondary, under God, but not His people. It cannot be argued that God is not jealous and protective of His people, the Jewish people, as special and separate from the rest of the world, which makes God exclusionary.

          The stories of Jewish literature are fascinating, but once perceived to be more than stories, there are so many philosophical discrepancies that they are impossible to reconcile. But … that’s the nature of religion, and as each individual chooses a faith or religion, he or she makes a choice that of necessity, suspends reason and evidence-based thinking.

      • Roger Smith said,

        Your comment that statements by mainstream denominations which represent 80% of Christians worldwide say thus can easily be undermined. An elite minority is responsible for making these statements and the probability is that the vast majority of non-elites may believe contrary to the official statement. An extreme example is Ms. Pelosi’s comments regarding conception and abortion which are in complete opposition to the Roman Catholic Church’s position of which she says she is a member. There are non-elite Roman Catholics who maintain either a Creationist or ID position. I can appreciate that this is anecdotal and I would really like to see an opinion poll that asks the question do you agree with your church’s position on everything? so on and so forth. My point is that an official statement by a church doesn’t equate to the popular opinion of its constituents. My observation is that popular opinion often opposes an elite opinion. Let’s face it. The elite by definition are a minority.

    • Bryant said,

      Ben,

      You said:
      “I believe it is a fallacy of reification to say that a “dishonest argument” makes the person who uses it dishonest themselves.”

      While I do agree with you on that point, there needs to be a clarification. Just because someone uses a dishonest argument does not make them dishonest IF they do not know it was a dishonest argument to begin with. While we don’t know for SURE if Strobel knows Wells was dishonest or not, one can assume he did. I know, I know, assuming makes an ass out of you an me, but in this case it is a safe assumption to make (that Strobel knew the argument was fallacious ) because he claims he is a journalist who is getting all his facts right who is all about the “evidence” and this is how he sells himself and his products. By claiming this he opens himself up to a LOT of criticism if his facts are wrong because he is claiming he has done his research and what his material is true.

      Beyond all of this we all know this is bullshit and a sub-par argument for Christianity, I’ve had a priest who was much more successful in making me believe in the existence of ANY god in a 30 minute conversation than Stobel was in all of his products. Stobel is an idiot who is also a LIAR and probably misrepresents himself for the money. His arguments make no sense because his proof is based on SCRIPTURE and the god damned BIBLE…WTF that makes no sense…If someone does not see WHY that is retarded you and illogical they are not worth arguing with.
      (unfortunately most Christians and religious people in general are in this group which is why I don’t debate religion. You can’t win a debate against a retard because they just can’t comprehend logic)….
      Now this is NOT an attack on you the rant at the bottom was just me fuming at super religious idiots. (I hope you’re not one of them lol.) The only part of this directed at you is BEFORE the second paragraph which starts with “Beyond all of this”)

      • Murse said,

        Another point… If you have to lie and/or misrepresent facts in order to defend your point of view, then you know that it cannot be true. While such fallacies as equivication and ad hominem attacks might be misleading, it is true that they don’t necessarily imply dishonesty. But other logical fallacies such as quote-mining is downright dishonest.

      • “We all know this is bullshit . . . Strobel is an idiot who is also a LIAR and . . . misrepresents himself for the money. His arguments make no sense . . . if someone does not see WHY that is retarded . . . they are not worth arguing with. . . most Christians and religious people are in this group . . . You can’t win a debate against a retard . . . they just can’t comprehend logic.”

        Nice, Bryant. Cogent, logical, balanced, not at all retarded. Too bad you gave up your career debating religion!

        • S Wilson said,

          Where is your intellect? A three year old can resort to name calling. And when one has no intellect and is backed into a corner your type of response is very normal because that person feels trapped. Try using sound rational facts. Leave your opinions out of it and drop the name calling. You will earn more respect.

        • Ken said,

          Speaking of retards…

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          The problem with most atheists are that they ascribe to the word because they are hostile individuals, not much better than Nazis, where under the right conditions, would execute people for being “liars”, which makes most atheists scum.

          Scum call people liars and become hostile.

          Non-believers who are also critical thinkers view believers as not quite gifted enough to smell a deceptive presentation; believers are merely people that need quick-fix answers to perplexing dilemmas and questions such as “why is the universe so vast,” “where is my place in the world as a speck-upon-a-speck-upon-a-speck of dust”, “who is my Creator and why does He seem not to care about everybody equally,” and so on and so on. These emotionally driven questions replace believers’ pursuit of scientific and mathematical queries because they are afraid of many aspects of life that perplex them and they need comforting answers. But … they are not liars.

          Atheists who are hostile lie to themselves when they say they are not potential Nazis; in fact, they are. Given the right situation, they, too, would pick up their clubs and kill whoever they consider to be “liars” because they are driven by emotion rather than critical thinking… .

          Notice that I qualified atheists by saying “hostile” atheists … there is a difference… .

        • Mike said,

          Wow, this entire thread has been interesting. As a former atheist who “switched sides” by becoming a committed follower of Christ, it has been enlightening to read these posts. Of course, I don’t believe that either ideology will change the position of the other, only Christ can do that, but the thought process has been enlightening. Hoping you find the truth you are desperately searching for.

        • kenn pappas said,

          I have no problem with someone adopting a faith position, since atheists are on a pe3rsonal campaign to tell believers they have no right to believe in an inclement, inimical manner. However, I have to ask this: how, precisely, does “Christ” cause an argument to become more or less enlighted? The problem with asserting that “Christ” can clear up an argument is just not a possibility. If anyone truly understands what Jesus represented, then he would see what the real message behind parable is. There are no clear cut answers, only direction. For instance, when Jesus is presented with the coin bearing Caesar’s image (gospel of Matthew), he says, in essence, `give to Caeser what’s Caeser’s, give to God what’s God;s … ‘ Disputes among human beings, if you are to accept Jesus as a personal savior, are not to be resolved by Jesus, i.e., spokesperson for God, because He really doesn’t care either way. Unfortunately, most believers think that because they have powerful emotions, and can read an unscientific series of documents published under the common title of the “Bible”, that they represent the beeline to the perfect mediator, the `Christ’ … . You have a start in belief; whether you choose to believe in this creature called `Christ’ is your choice. However, please realize that the “Christ” concept has been a weapon used as a claim to power over others, the definitive self-righteousness in all argument, and this isn’t what the “Christ” concept is about. The gospels were written not as history, but as a propaganda to get people to believe in the “Christ” in their various manners. If you plunge into the subject of historical theology (start with Albert Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus), you’ll get a better perspective on just how many viewpoints there are to the “Christ”. As William of Okham said in the 12th century, `all Christians see God sittting on His throne in their own individual way’, for which he was condemned as a heretic. But he was right. An appeal to the “Christ” as the definitive answer just isn’t that easy. Be careful not to make the “Christ” the easy way out of all discussion, because this type of thinking becomes the brick wall to all critical thinking.

      • Marie said,

        I have no particular opinion on these arguments right now, because I need to examine them and the evidence behind them more closely. However, I do have one issue with this discussion: the use of the word “retard” as an insult. I work with people with intellectual disabilities, and I find the use of a word associated with their diagnosis as an insult to these wonderful people I associate on a daily basis. It would be appreciated if you would stop encouraging the spread of disparagement in our culture.

        • chaya1957 said,

          I am not an atheist, but I came across this blog because I saw a video with Lee Strobel and he came across as slick and disingenuous. The sappy stuff with his wife, a number of factual inaccuracies and the emotional/sensational angle which sells well to the choir led me to google, “Lee Strobel fraud,” as soon as I got home.

          In answer to the poster who claimed that atheists were Nazis in waiting, ummm, pre-WWII Germany was 1/3 Catholic and 2/3 Lutheran. In other words, they were what religion? Guess what religious group was the one to oppose Hitler as a group? Go look it up; I am not going to tell you, but you might be surprised. Please don’t give me the argument that they weren’t, “real,” Christians. No one can determine whether a person is a, “real,” Christian or not, but these were normative Christians.

    • wm borch said,

      I appreciate your moderate tone.

      • wm borch said,

        My comment of Sept 23 is to Ben; May 29.

  3. Ben said,

    Oops, I guess that link didn’t work.

    http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/01/10/lee-strobel-answers-your-questions-part-2/

  4. The attempt to find another slot for Quirinius that would harmonize Matthew and Luke doesn’t work.

    Here’s a link to a page connected with my historical Jesus class, on the subject of the census under Quirinius and the contradiction between Matthew and Luke (and Luke and Luke) on the date:

    http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/jesus/quirinius.htm

  5. Nathaniel said,

    Andrew,

    I think you’re way, way overstating your case for Strobel’s being a liar.

    Was Vardaman a crackpot? Looks like it. (He’s been dead quite some time now, so nobody can quiz him.) But Strobel, as I recall, never claimed to have interviewed Vardaman; he interviewed someone else who mentioned Vardaman. (If I’m wrong on this, please correct me.)

    Now, if Strobel interviewed someone he considered to be an expert, and he got information from that expert — we can even stipulate for the sake of the argument that it was misinformation — he presumably is going to trust his expert unless he personally reads a criticism by a similarly credentialed expert.

    So here’s the key question: why should you assume that Strobel believes there is serious doubt about the Vardaman claims? It can’t simply be that he’s been told about Carrier’s article. Even if someone said to him, “Some guy with a bachelor’s degree has written an article on the Internet saying that the scholar you interviewed quoted somebody else who got it badly wrong,” would it be reasonable to expect him to take it seriously? These days, “someone on the Internet disagrees with you” can’t really be all that surprising or even interesting.

    That Vardaman was wrong does seem established. That Strobel is a liar requires several further assumptions that you haven’t even tried to substantiate.

    • Andrew said,

      Nathaniel,

      Did you visit the Real Clear Theology blog link? (It’s up there hyperlinked from the December 2005 FOX News story.) Strobel isn’t just quoting McRay in his book; he’s actively repeating the underlying falsehood in public fora, in such a way that makes other conservative Christians uncomfortable (to put it lightly).

      • Ben said,

        Andrew,

        That’s interesting. Are any Christians calling Strobel out on it?

        Ben

      • Nathaniel said,

        Andrew,

        Why wouldn’t he? He doesn’t know it’s false.

        I do think some Christians who have access to him should tell him; in fact, given the big deal that you and others are making about it, I think that’s fairly important.

        But I don’t know who does.

        Do you?

        • Roger Smith said,

          More than likely, the Christians who do have access to him are in his camp so to speak. I wouldn’t know who has access to him either.

  6. DagoodS said,

    Ben and Nathaniel,

    O.K., you don’t like the word “liar.” What other word do you propose? What other word captures either Strobel’s misrepresentation of his own intention and process OR the gross aberration of even mentioning the coin itself?

    Let’s look at “The Who,” “The What,” “The How,” and “The Result.”

    The Who

    Strobel is no blogger posting some entry after his daytime job of computer programming. He is no teenage You-Tube apologist. This is a guy who is SELLING A BOOK! He is making money off the production of his product. He represents it to be of a certain quality, and we rely upon that representation when we spend our money upon it. Choosing to spend on our money on him, rather than some other author.

    How does he describe himself?

    Lee Strobel in his Introduction: “…so I launched an all-out investigation into the facts surrounding the case for Christianity.

    “Setting aside my self-interests and prejudices as best I could, I read books, interviewed experts, asked questions, analyzed history, explored archeology, studied ancient literature and for the first time in my life, picked apart the Bible verse by verse.

    “I plunged into the case with more vigor than any story I had ever pursued. I applied the training I had received at Yale Law School, as well as my experience as legal affairs editor of the Chicago Tribune. …

    “I have crisscrossed the country from Minnesota to Georgia, from Virginia to California to elicit their expert opinions, to challenge them with the objections I had when I was a skeptic, to force them to defend their position with solid data and cogent arguments and to test them with the very questions that you might ask if given the opportunity.” [emphasis added]

    I’m expecting at least as good reporting as…say…from a reporter employed by National Enquirer. I expect at least some cursory investigation of these facts, as Strobel claims he will do. Why is it Christians have LOWER expectations from their own than they would expect the reporters in a gossip rag?

    Look, if a friend offers to fix my leaky sink; I am not terribly disappointed upon failure. But if some plumber puts themselves out as thorough, competent and proficient, and I PAY THEM FOR IT—I expect my sink to be repaired! Christians, apparently hiring a Christian plumber, shrug it off as “acceptable” if they can’t even do with other plumbers would do.

    Strobel sets himself up as being able to interview the experts we can’t. Look at the people he as talked to: Metzger, Wallace, Craig, Wells, Bloomberg, Mooreland. Can you get access to these people? Can I? Of course not!

    So we are supposed to rely upon Strobel and his “skepticism” when asking questions we would like to ask? Then why doesn’t he ask the really hard questions?

    The What

    We need to be clear on these “coins.”

    First, there are no coins. None. None we can look at, none we can determine Vardaman was referring to, none we can verify. No coins.

    Second, there are no pictures of coins. Again, nothing for us to verify. Nothing to catalog. Nothing to do any of our research.

    Nathaniel, I found it amusingly ironic when you made reference to the common occurrence of “someone on the internet disagrees with you.” You are right—this broad generalization happens all the time with little force or effect.

    Yet this is EXACTLY what Strobel is doing! Why would you accept from Strobel what you wouldn’t accept from any internet hack? He says, “Some expert claims there are coins.” Nothing more. Nothing substantive. Nothing much beyond, “Someone somewhere claims something. So I am right.”

    [I also found it amusing you offhandedly disparage Carrier’s credentials, yet apparently begrudgingly agree Carrier is correct over the Ph.D-qualified McRay. Apparently even “Bachelor-degreed” internet article writers can figure out what Strobel, with his “Yale Law experience” and all his years of reporting could not!]

    Thirdly, Vardaman apparently never claims the coins show a second Quirinius!

    So…we have no coins…and even the claim the coins (we don’t have) say something—the person doesn’t make the claim!

    We have established our author claims to be a “crack reporter” far more experienced than average Joes like me. A person who will, with his access to such experts (unavailable to me) will be asking the questions and investigating for me. A person who would like me to purchase his result as it is worthy of my time and money.

    And a flaming, incompetent claim about coins that is wrong, wrong, wrong. The only question left is—did he know?

    The How

    Again, this is no internet blog. This is a published book. Rows and Rows of “The Case For…” can be seen in Christian bookstores. (A humorous side note. At my local Christian bookstore, their overflow for Strobel’s books happened to spill into the “Fiction” section. If I had a camera-phone I could have taken a picture of “The Case for a Creator” under a sign saying “Fiction”!)

    Strobel has to set up a time to interview these people, prepare his questions, travel, take notes or record it, review it, write it, edit it, send it through the editors, and offer it to the publisher. This isn’t a Sunday morning slap-together, like this comment. This is a process.

    And part of the process is to weed out what parts of the interview to include. Editing. Strobel even acknowledges the process:

    Lee Strobel on the Census: “…I pulled out my notes and got ready to challenge McRay on with three long-standing riddles that I thought archeology might have some trouble explaining.”

    Ben, you may be right that most Christians don’t know about the Quirinius thing. We are not talking about “most Christians.” We are talking about Strobel. Our “ace reporter” in the field. The guy who is telling us, “Rely on ME to know what questions to ask.”

    The first “riddle” is the Census date conflict between Matthew and Luke. [And frankly, if Strobel had enough wherewithal to know about the conflict but NOT know about the proposed solution of Two Quirinius governorships, I wonder seriously where he even learned of the conflict!]

    McRay coughs out the coin atrocity as indicating Two Quiriniuses. And how does Strobel respond?

    Lee Strobel after hearing Two Quiriniuses on coins: “That sounded a bit speculative to me, but rather than bog down the conversation, I decided to mentally file this issue away for further analysis later.”

    Good for him. He BRAGS he is going to do more research. And does he? Let’s see:

    Lee Strobel: “When I did some additional research, I found that Sir William Ramsey, the late archeologist and professor at both Oxford and Cambridge, had come up with a similar theory…

    Whoops! What about the coins? They are not referred to again! Think about this process:

    1. Strobel goes into interview with questions.
    2. Strobel hears about coins.
    3. Strobel indicates he wants to do more research.
    4. Strobel does more research.
    5. Stroblel later writes his book, including the claim about the coins.

    Where is the research on the coins? He deliberately includes the information on the coins, to the exclusion of other things McRay said, he indicates he is questioning the facts underlying the claim (remember he said he would in his own introduction) and yet he never once bothers to…oh…I don’t know…look for a coin? Or a Picture? Or even a drawing? Or even a reference?

    Either Strobel is lying about his own qualifications in doing this type of work, or he is lying about the coins. One or the other.

    The Result

    I would think Christians would be ashamed of Strobel. Treat him as the apologetical equivalent of Fred Phelps. But they don’t. Why not?

    First, because 95% of those who read his books already believe it anyway, and will never question a single word written. Not one. (A completely made-up statistic, but I hope you get the point.) Think about if you were selling a product and the vast majority would lap it with never a complaint, never a warranty claim, never a request for a return? Rolling in the bucks!

    On the rare occasion a skeptic confronts them, Christians brush off the skeptic. Maybe Strobel got one fact wrong, but golly-gee, there are so many other facts, what is one in the big picture? Besides, Christians know they are right—they have “truth”—what does one inconsistency matter?

    They excuse Strobel. Poor chap, can’t be expected to get EVERYTHING right at $9.95 a pop! Can’t be expected to do the most basic research. [Yet curiously many Christians complain Darwin was wrong because he didn’t know all the things science discovered in the 150 years after he published!]

    Strobel has no fear. Ben is right; Strobel talks to a sympathetic audience. An extremely sympathetic audience. The one or two complaints from skeptics are laughable. ‘Cause Amazon writes him a check every month…

    Finally, a note of personal bias. Because we all have them, and it is illuminating to know where I am coming from.

    When I was deconverting, I was struck by how many extremely intelligent people hold to Christianity. I thought, “If it is so wrong, how can these people (who are much smarter than I am) believe it? There MUST be something I am missing.” So I would research the Craigs, the Plantingas, the Boyds, and yes…Strobel.

    And two problems continually bubbled to the surface. First, the Christian apologist would often say, “The skeptic claims ______” and after having read skeptics and interfaced with skeptics and poured over skeptical articles, my first thought was, “No, skeptics do NOT make that claim.”

    But the second and far more disturbing problem was how many times I found Christian apologists to be less than complete about the truth. (Avoiding the term “liar” for a moment.) How they would refer to the Testimonium Flavianum without mentioning the huge questions regarding its authenticity. Or how the Talmud refers to Jesus without mentioning how…it doesn’t.

    Or the problems with Exodus. Or the problems with Joshua’s invasion. Or this problem or that. Always only giving one side, never the opposite.

    [A great example of a person who does NOT do this, in my opinion, is Dr. Daniel Wallace. At least in his commentary on the New Testament, he presents both sides of the issues regarding dating and authorship. While he is convinced of the conservative position, he does give adequate treatment to alternative positions.]

    As a deconverting Christian, I struggled with this. If we hold truth…no wait…if we hold TRUTH, why should we ever have to be anything less than completely honest? If our position is correct, why would I EVER have to misrepresent the other’s position? Why would I have to make up facts? Why do apologists do this so much?

    I can read through Strobel. I see this as a lie. He doesn’t care—most readers will never look it up. Most readers will drink it down and assume it to be true.

    Sure, for most Christians this is no big deal. But I can tell you for a handful of Christians—deconverting Christians—these things can be some of the nails in the coffin. If this is the what Christianity has to offer to support its position of “truth”—a lie; a complete, utter and total fabrication—then it is as baseless as claims of Alien abductions.

  7. Nathaniel said,

    DagoodS,

    I take it this is your ultimate conclusion:

    Either Strobel is lying about his own qualifications in doing this type of work, or he is lying about the coins. One or the other.

    I think it’s clearly an overstatement, and an uncharitable one at that. The likeliest explanation is neither of these: it’s that Strobel, having by his lights done his research by interviewing numerous specialists, can’t be bothered to take notice of what the internet infidels crowd has to say about what was said by someone cited by one of those specialists, any more than Andrew would feel duty-bound to go investigate the claim that someone working for the ICR had refuted a biological claim made by someone quoted by Richard Dawkins. If that detail seems useful, he’ll still use it, because, from his point of view, the carpings of people who are hell-bent on undermining the case for Christianity by any means just don’t rise to the level of casting doubt on the claim.

    Is that lazy or sloppy of him? I guess that depends on your standards. Whether it’s reasonable to take time to look into a complaint like that depends in part on your estimate of the credibility of the source and in part on the other demands on your time. Given the quality of most of what passes for atheist argumentation on the internet, Strobel probably has a justifiably low opinion of the source. And I’ll bet he’s got a busy speaking schedule.

    So I think the charge of dishonesty simply won’t stick. And it makes you and Andrew sound shrill when you keep trying to press it.

  8. Nathaniel said,

    DagoodS,

    On two of your comments, in passing:

    How they [Christian apologists] would refer to the Testimonium Flavianum without mentioning the huge questions regarding its authenticity.

    These days, among scholars with relevant expertise, the controversy has largely died down: there is a scholarly consensus that the Testimonium suffered some Christian interpolations but was present in the original in something like the Agapian version discovered by Pines around 1970. Have a look at Louis Feldman, Josephus: A Supplementary Bibliography (New York: Garland, 1986), pp. 618-19, 677.

    I don’t know what Christian authors you were reading when you were in the process of losing your faith, but for competent Christian discussions of the Testimonium that give a fair state of the controversy and scholarly (as opposed to internet) opinion, you can look at any of the following works:

    Boyd and Eddy, The Jesus Legend (2007), 186-90

    F. F. Bruce, Jesus & Christian Origins Outside the New Testament (1974), pp. 32-41

    R. T. France, The Evidence for Jesus (), pp. 25-32

    Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus (1996), pp. 192-96

    Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (2000), pp. 81-104

    Or how the Talmud refers to Jesus without mentioning how…it doesn’t.

    See Bruce, pp. 54-65, van Voorst pp. 104-22, etc. for discussion of the difficulties involved in the Talmud inquiry and the range of scholarly opinion. It’s hard to get around the reference in Sanhedrin 43a, brief and garbled though it is.

    It seems that either you did not read very widely, or you were very unfortunate in your selection of apologists.

  9. Ben said,

    Dagoods,

    “The only question left is—did he know?”

    I agree with Nathaniel’s responses.

    If you want an accurate label for Strobel, I would say, “not all he’s cracked up to be.” Your plumber analogy struck the hardest, but all things considered, just about all Christian apologists are not on the top of my list of those I’d trust with my philosophical or epistemological plumbing. So none of them or any of their selling points are really “all that they are cracked up to be.” But then again I disagree with them all so, I would say that wouldn’t I? It’s big world filled with people who think differently than us and there’s always reasons why we don’t all come to the same conclusions about things. You have solid things to say in criticism of the quality of Strobel’s work, but your conclusion does not follow.

    “First, the Christian apologist would often say, ‘The skeptic claims ______’ and after having read skeptics and interfaced with skeptics and poured over skeptical articles, my first thought was, ‘No, skeptics do NOT make that claim.’”

    They do seem to do that a lot and it is a valid complaint. The culprit here though is bias and it is by no means unique to apologists. There are plenty of times in life when you say one thing to someone and they hear something entirely different based on all their misguided preconceived notions about what you must mean. We all have reality filters and it is a never ending battle to patiently do your best to actually hear someone’s position out in the way they intended it, despite the hostility and politics that might be in the air. Not everyone is as interested in that pursuit.

    Ben

  10. DagoodS said,

    Nathaniel,

    Your thinking I overstate the case does not make it so. You are correct; it is dependent on my standards. I tend to hold myself to a higher standard, and expect the same of others. I wouldn’t accept this sloppy claim from my son on his seventh-grade essay, let alone a person who is attempting to sell a book. If I wouldn’t accept it on…say…a paper on the American Indian—why should I accept it from Strobel?

    Remember the key selling point of this book. That the author (Strobel) is doing research. It is the reason I quoted from various sections of his book. Over and over and over again, he talks about the lengths and breadths of the extent of research he does. He reiterates again and again his credentials, both in schooling and employment, as to his superior capability to perform such research. To act the part of the skeptic. To ask the “tough questions.”

    It is the very reason d’existence (to sound snooty) for the book.

    Strobel goes into the claim, telling us he has prior researched and prepared ahead of time. He tells us at the time of the claim he had his doubts and intended to research it further. He tells us after the claim he does further research. Again, the whole premise we are to be left with is how much research Mr. Strobel is doing for us, so we don’t have to.

    And he doesn’t figure out there are no coins?
    He doesn’t figure out there are no pictures?
    He doesn’t figure out Vardaman never claimed this was on a coin?

    How do I call that anything but lazy or sloppy?

    I am not sure it helps your argument any by besmirching (even off-handedly) the critics. Remember—the critics were right. I don’t care if the expert has one, two or three Ph.D’s. I don’t care if they are from Harvard, Oxford or Brown. If a High Schooler from Carver High is right, and the expert is wrong, the degrees don’t mean anything.

    We all seem to be on the same page that McRay (with his Ph.D.) was wrong. Carrier (regardless of what degree he has) is correct. “Bob the internet infidel” is right. Strobel, with all his research, schooling and employment is wrong.

    Or look at it this way—if an incompetent buffoon, using only one finger and half-stoned is able to figure out the coins don’t exist—what does that say about the level of expertise of a person (Strobel) who cannot? Doesn’t it make them even MORE of an incompetent buffoon? So every time you (even slightly) disparage others who turned out to be right, it actually lessens the effectiveness of the person you are attempting to protect.

    You may be attempting to save the tree of Strobel not lying, but are losing the entire forest of Strobel being a waste of time to read as he cannot perform even the most basic research. Research he…bragged…over and over…about doing….(still not sure how you get around that.)

    And as to the lack of credibility of Christian apologists—I was merely giving broad examples. I was not intending to be exhaustive. I certainly did not mean to give the impression that ALL apologists misrepresent ALL claims ALL the time. Nor even that SOME apologists misrepresent ONE claim all the time. I certain recognize (and mentioned if you will recall) there are a variety of differences. Sorting through them takes a bit.

    Humorously, I could point out some problems I have seen with some of the authors you mentioned, but I figure I sound “shrill” enough at this point, any more will only degrade the conversation. *wink*

  11. DagoodS said,

    Ben,

    I quite agree it is difficult to remove our own reality filters. Even to the point of impossibility. We can try to be as objective as possible, but in the end some subjectivity creeps in. It is part of the human package.

    And, believe it or not, I do try to be charitable towards other’s positions. And to give them the benefit of the doubt. There is a LOT of information out there, and to expect someone to know everything about anything is really too much.

    But…

    There comes a point where I draw the line. A point where I evaluate all the evidence I have available and make a conclusion. Here, (and reinforced by reading all of the Strobel’s works), I can come to no other conclusion than Strobel is a liar. I recognize this is a strong, divisive label. This does not foster communication.

    Until I learn new information (and I haven’t seen any thus far) I will remain with my conclusion. Either Strobel knows the coins are a lie, are he doesn’t.

    If he does, by failing to correct the situation with a firm declaration or retraction, he is promulgating a lie.

    If this was some archaic tome over a miniscule issue, I would agree this is a useless conversation. It is not. There are millions of Christians who firmly believe these coins exist. And many of those Christians gained their information, relying upon Strobel. I have had quite a few forum conversations where a Christian pipes up about these coins (understandably relying upon Strobel) and it is pointed out the error.

    In my personal opinion, I think he does know about the coin, yet is in no fear of being confronted about it. His books will sell. Christians will still believe. (And, as you and Nathaniel have adequately pointed out, even if he IS somehow confronted to the point of having to make a declaration, he can use plausible deniability by claiming he was merely quoting McRay.)

    If Strobel does NOT know about the coins, I see him lying about researching the issue. How could he possibly claim he researched the issue prior to talking to McRay, was questioning it at the time of talking to McRay and researched it after talking to McRay, and NOT discover the coins don’t exist?

    I am curious—would you be more satisfied if we said either Strobel is a liar OR he failed to perform the most rudimentary research and should not be trusted? Is lying worse than being completely untrustworthy?

  12. Ben said,

    I stand by previous sentiments. Apparently Strobel thinks asking McRay is sufficient research and that the objections presented to him to look further into probably weren’t worth looking into. I’m tired of arguing this position, so why don’t you just ask Strobel himself:

    https://forms.netsuite.com/app/site/crm/externalcasepage.nl?compid=ACCT121890&formid=112&h=cb48d108ff0fd0f4e215&companyname=Lee%20Strobel&email=LS&title=ASKLEEweb

    Ben

  13. atimetorend said,

    Andrew, I think you critiqued the book quite well, particularly what you said about Strobel’s “schtick” as an investigative reporter.

    To chip in at a more superficial level, my personal problem with Strobel’s “critical, hard hitting questions,” was his lack of interviewing anyone with a differing opinion in his book.

    Does an apologist have to interview their critics in a book? Of course not, but you do if you are marketing your book as “hard hitting investigative reporting” don’t you? That alone does not invalidate the arguments of the book, but it makes a statement that it can’t be trusted, that it is not really what it is is purported to be.

  14. Nathaniel said,

    DagoodS

    I am curious—would you be more satisfied if we said either Strobel is a liar OR he failed to perform the most rudimentary research and should not be trusted?

    Better yet, just say, “He got something wrong because he trusted McRay on a detail. It isn’t of great importance to his overall argument, and he isn’t an expert on this area himself, but it would still be better if he would get it right.”

    Now let’s turn this around. Do you also call Bart Ehrman a liar? I’m thinking of his claim, in Misquoting Jesus, that his Top Ten Verses that were Not Originally in the New Testament “are often found in late medieval manuscripts of the New Testament, but not in the manuscripts of the earlier centuries.” I mean, he’s not even relying on secondary sources here; he’s an expert on textual criticism in his own right. So he has even less excuse than Strobel. And his books are selling quite briskly.

  15. Barry said,

    Nathan, not sure I follow you point about Ehrman. What are you asserting Ehrman got wrong? What is your evidence? ‘Originally’ to me would seem to be attested to by being missing from the earlier manuscripts.

    Also, at the pragmatic level are you agreeing with the other points Ehrman makes as you assert we should with Strobel?

    Barry

  16. facilis said,

    In all honsty I can see the Strobel made a gaffe on the McRay\Verdaman incident.
    I guess I could indentify with him Dr. McRay vs some writer fro infidels.org but I can see the problems with it too.
    But In honsty this is nothing compared to some of the distortions of fact you find among atheist writers who cite writers like Freke and Gandy, Acharya S and Kearsey Greaves and other publications hot off Prometheus press as if they were mainstream New Testament scholarship

  17. Nathaniel said,

    Barry,

    Ehrman writes, regarding his “Top Ten Verses that were Not Originally in the New Testament,”

    These scribal additions are often found in late medieval manuscripts of the New Testament, but not in the manuscripts of the earlier centuries.

    Does it sound to you, on a straightforward reading of this sentence, like Ehrman is ruling out the idea that these verses can be found in the manuscripts of the earlier centuries?

    Or take Ehrman’s claim, from his May, 2007 lecture at Stanford, that no commentaries before the 10th century mention the story of the woman caught in adultery. What would you ordinarily infer, supposing that he is right, regarding pre-10th century manuscripts and discussion of the pericope adulterae?

    Try to apply here the same standards you would use in reading some pop-level Christian apologist like McDowell or Strobel.

  18. DagoodS said,

    A few points to clarify:

    1. Strobel did NOT trust McVay.

    Ben, you said, “Apparently Strobel thinks asking McRay is sufficient research and that the objections presented to him to look further into probably weren’t worth looking into” and Nathaniel, you indicated, “He got something wrong because he trusted McRay on a detail.”

    But this is Exactly the OPPOSITE of what Strobel writes!

    It is why I quoted Strobel himself to get it accurate as possible. Strobel says he went into the interview with McVay, having performed some research. He refers to his “notes.” And “long-standing challenges.” And “difficulties archeology would have trouble explaining.”

    After McVay spews out the bit about the coins, Strobel specifically says he doubts McVay! I am absolutely baffled as to how you two—Ben and Nathaniel—can say Strobel was relying upon McVay, when Stroble himself said he did not! I will repeat Strobel’s statement immediately after hearing about the coins.

    “That sounded a bit speculative to me, but rather than bog down the conversation, I decided to mentally file this issue away for further analysis later.”

    Where do you get from that statement Strobel was relying upon McVay? And what is the very next thing Strobel says?

    “When I did some additional research…”

    I puzzle as to how this could be any clearer.

    1. Strobel goes in with notes, and anticipated difficulties.
    2. McVay claims Quirinius was governor twice due to Vardaman’s coins.
    3. Strobel says he found this speculative and wants to do further analysis.
    4. Strobel says he does additional research.

    How one could possibly say this demonstrates Strobel was relying on McVay, or even more precisely that Strobel was relying solely on McVay is beyond me.

    2. This is edited material.

    Strobel is not quoting an interview verbatim. This is a book, written after the fact. Can anyone honestly presume every single thing that every single person every interview by Strobel was 100% correct? Of course not. (In fact, in the Case for Creator, some even disagree amongst themselves, if I recall.) If Strobel found one of his experts said something that wasn’t true—would he have included in the book?

    Really?

    “I found this to be very speculative,” says Strobel, “so I followed up with additional research later. Turns out to be total poppycock. My expert was wrong, and turns out the skeptics were right.”

    Please…I am chuckling even imagining this in a book! If Strobel did any research that proved his expert wrong, he wouldn’t included it in the book.

    I stand by the same premise. Either he did NOT do the research—in which case he is misrepresenting his credentials as a researcher OR he DID do the research, in which case he is misrepresenting the coins. Oh, and in case you didn’t know—he is still babbling on about these coins in this video on his website. (If the link doesn’t work, go to leestrobel.com, under “Investigating Jesus” click “The Case for Christmas” and the first video link.)

    Again, Strobel brags about his research skills in the video: “I looked at corroborative evidence that these documents are accurate. First I studied archeology…”

    And then the coins:

    “Jerry Vardaman found a coin with what archeologists call ‘micro-graphic letters’ that simply means very tiny writings that proved Quirinius was pro-counsel of Syria from 11 B.C. to after the death of Herod….But the point was that Luke was right. And that archeological discovery shows us how careful he was as a historian.”

    You would think if he “studied archeology” he would have found archeologists would have laughed their butts off at “micro-graphic” Latin letters on Greek coins. Or even “micro-graphic” letters!

    You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, “He relied upon McVay” AND “He did his research.” One or the other. If he relied upon McVay—he is untrustworthy and a liar about the extent of research he did. If he did even the barest research possible—he is untrustworthy and a liar about the coins.

    • Ben said,

      Yeah, sorry. I was getting tired of paying attention. I think I just repeated what Nathan said on that point.

      You’d have to establish the nature of the before and supposed after research. His interviews are designed to “capture” his impressions of the moment to eek out innocent credibility. Maybe he looked up Vardman’s case on it afterwards and decided it was credible. So he’d be relying on McVay and Vardman. Maybe you have a case. I don’t know.

      I’d just submit a question to Strobel and get it over with.

      Ben

  19. DagoodS said,

    Nathaniel,

    A confession. If it gets me booted out of the “Skeptics Club”—so be it. I have only skimmed Misquoting Jesus while standing in a Library, looking for a certain quote. I read Metzger and Wallace regarding Textual Criticism, and I haven’t seen any convincing reason why Ehrman adds anything more I would need to know.

    So I don’t know what the “Top Ten Verses” are—nor do I know the claim being made by Ehrman. (Beyond, of course, the general agreement by most Textual Critics that the ending of Mark, the Pericope de Adultera and the Johannine Comma were later additions. As well as each Textual Critic’s pet phrase or two in certain verses.)

    I take from the quote (assuming it is accurate) that this list of verses appeared in manuscripts whereas earlier manuscripts did NOT have these verses? Are you saying the verses were in earlier manuscripts?

    And I hazily recall, the issue regarding the “commentaries” was whether Ehrman said “Greek Commentaries” or just “commentaries.” If I recall, it was a quote from Metzger, where even Metzger got it wrong. Again, though, this is hazy memory from a long-ago discussion on this problem. So I may have it quite wrong.

  20. [...] at Evaluating Christianity has a nice reminder of why my “a little bit dishonest” comment may have been an understa… But I stand by what I said about Strobel’s arguments being not as awful as a lot of recent [...]

  21. I don’t think any claim about Strobel relying on others holds up (aside from the fact that he asserts that he did the “research”). The first time I ever heard about micrographs I was intensely skeptical of them simply based on minimal common sense in that there would be no good reason to add these to coins and incredibly labor intensive. Five minutes of discussion with a coin-collecting friend confirmed that this was nonsense. So at minimum, Strobel is terribly lacking in basic critical thinking ability. That together with the evidence above points to someone who is either willfully dishonest or severely self-deluded.

  22. [...] newest stories | submit new story | latest comments | give feedback Login – Signup   The Case Against Lee Strobel (evaluatingchristianity.wordpress.com) Let me say this: the works of Lee Strobel are one of the [...]

  23. Deborah said,

    Enjoyed your post. I’ve thought for years that Strobel was a fake. Any honest journalist would investigate both sides of an issue. Why didn’t Strobel interview any non-Christians? Curiously, he did not even talk to any Catholic theologians. His books have been very critical of so-called liberal scholarship, such as the Jesus Seminar, but did he question anyone from this side of the fence? The answer is a resounding NO. Obviously, Strobel was sucking up to his intended audience of ultra-conservative Christians. He has much more in common with an unscrupulous politician, than he has as a journalist or a scholar.

  24. [...] are a lot of reviews out there on the internet that refutes the faulty information found in the book, so I won’t go to much into [...]

  25. Hello very nice weblog man, wonderful, everything is great design themes, i’ll bookmark and subscribe for the feeds!Hi there i came across your site thru google while searching just for good read, and your articles seem very important to me!

  26. todd said,

    Hello Andrew,
    I read through much of the above a couple of days ago, and throughout the last couple days found myself thinking about you. I woke up this morning and felt the need to pray for you. First of all I am so very thankful for you. Why? Because of the most amazing, wonderful, words can’t even get close change that has come to my life.

    Lord God, I pray that you give Andrew all he needs regarding his quest to find the truth.

    Andrew, I don’t have all the answers of why Jesus loves us, but, I am so glad He does. I surely don’t deserve heaven, but because of Jesus I so, so, so very much hope that I get the opportunity to meet you there. –Todd

  27. Lisa said,

    As more and more “physical” events are happening in our world, I have seen both sides of the argument. On May 21, 2011, our society (masses) were, for the most part, awaiting the day of rapture. In most of our cases, this “physically” did not happen, but if you were to speak to the survivors of the tornado that hit Jopplin, Missouri, you would understand that it is not a “physical” thing we seek, but a “spiritual” one. If all you believe in is what you see, you miss the whole point. After watching not only Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” and “The Case for Faith”, in which
    both answered very tough questions from an atheist point of view. There are always going to be skeptics, in absolutely everything debated upon, Strobel just pointed out the most basic questions and was able to answer these questions as an authortative figure in journalism. The Chicago Tribune is nothing to thumb the nose at, and for him to go beyond and become personal with his own “religion” (which atheists isn’t really a religion, but a lack of religion, either because “ignorance is bliss” or whatever the case maybe. There are some that have had religion shoved down their throats as children and now reject any type of religion whatsoever, they don’t even call themselves athesists. The main questions that I observed from “The Case for Christ” was that Strobel did his investigation on actual evidence/eyewitnesses as any top journalist would do, to quote anything from “Fox” entertainment industry is quite laughable, almost disgustingly. He did what he set out to do, and he is the better for it. In the “Case for Faith” Strobel throws in a bit of history on Billy Grahams background (which I thought was quite interesting). The questions that arose from that investigation were 2 basic, simple questions. Perhaps you have a better answer than what Strobel found. The first question, of course, you wouldn’t be interested in answering and that is 1) Why is Christ the only way to God, when there are literally hundreds of religions?, but perhaps the second question you could give an answer to, 2) If there is a God, why so much evil/suffering? Both of these questions can be answered as thus: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:1). It is like asking a question to someone who doesn’t believe. Do you ever hope for anything or wish for anything? I often question my own existence, but if I don’t exist, than neither do my children, or my family or my friends or the world I live in. Even the really religious people, often doubt what their purpose in life is, for without purpose, there isn’t existence. Your purpose to refute any information; whether physical evidence/skeptism/bias and my purpose is to inform you that the world does not evolve around you and that we all have our own perception, whether that be in the “physical” (dates/times/etc…) or the “spiritual” (events that occured regardless of dates or times.

  28. Richard said,

    There are many Christians such as myself who have reservations pertaining to Strobel

  29. RD said,

    All these details … did Jesus rise from the dead or not. It appears that He did. That is enough for me anyway. Thanks….

  30. Steve said,

    andrew, and to all who deny the divine

    This has be an ongoing argument for milleniums…what purpose do we serve if the universe is purposeless..its simple…its not..How ironic a situation that ‘if” in a universe without purpose we are obsessed with it..Cultures from every corner of the earth have dwelled upon the stars and looked up..even the belief in exterrestial beings doesnt answer the question of the universe and what purpose we serve..if by some outstanding odds we were genetically altered by other-worldly beings..we would still ask the same queston of what made the universe and how it came to exist.. as well as the intelligent beings themselves.. When the very essence of life is broken down into the molecular and sub-atomic level…we all see that everything has its purpose.like a motor.. to drive the next. every atom has information within itself that allows it cling to another to make something complex work…they all must fit together to make you work. lol Life is absolutely beautiful…is it possible that we are spiritual machines? yes …our own mental complexity is enough to satisfy even the most intellectual among us…why do we reason?..wat purpose do we have for questioning everything..its simple….an exercise to find the divine. People all over the world try to find flaws in the bible because of a religious disbelief and for asking why must we suffer for the wrongs we do..yet again we’ve been givin the answer through jesus christ and our father in heaven but because of our arrogance (in part due to satan and his twisted ways)..have become consumed with naturalism ( darwins theory of evolution) as a way out… a free ride if you will to not be punish for murder for lies for theft …glutiny, greed and pride…but how funny and ironic is it that we ourselves use the very laws we’ve chosen to act against to punish others..we are punished either way. by our own hand or by Gods..my motto…DO RIGHT… and no worrys
    it seems to me that your refusal and rejections to strobel, are personal, regardless of a minor hickup on an issue of coins he is extremely credible..you deny his research because of your denial of a supreme being…do your research in all fields of study before persuing a matter as deep as this one…lee strobel is phenomenal and fair, and his work is mutual among both parties and he asks all the right questions…jonathen wells,…stephen meyers…and many other scientists , whom hes interviewed have become believers not because of mere beliefs but because of there involvement in a network of scientific study from all fields.. (cellular biology, DNA, astrophysics, astronomy..etc) that hense forth have changed there perspective on the universe as we know it. scientific studies of astronomy have placed us in a special place among the stars..regardless of belief from anyone on this planet…the number one question to ask is why and how did the universe come to exist..Strobel gets to the bottom of every view point imaginable (multi-verses, stephen hawkings quantum gravity, sagans theory, kalam theory..quantum vacuums)..suggesting the universe is self-sustaining and all have the same conclusion… that divine design is inescapable…is it really hard to believe that in a time before the universes existence. that GOD was, is, and always will be..responsble for something so magnificent…you, me and everything in between…open your eyes and weigh the odds
    GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!
    LOVE steve

  31. Lsmith said,

    You seem to have put a lot effort in trying to find an excuse not to believe in God. I hate to see what it is in your background that motivates you to jump through these hoops. I’m not saying you’re a homosexual, but your quest has all the earmarks of back-lashing by a fudge packers tortured soul. Lee Strobel audio-books are by far my favorite and I own over 100 audio-books on Apologetics. I understand why the enemy would want to destroy his credibility. He is converting souls in such great numbers, that you haven’t had a date in a month. Well you needed the break and at least you can sit down now and blog.

    • Bryant said,

      Go back to your god’s scripture and at least ATTEMPT to live by it. Calling attempting to insult him, calling someone a homo isn’t an insult, (and before you go all crazy on me no I’m not gay, but why would being so be something bad?) because you disagree with their pov isn’t very “Christian”, is it moron? You’re exactly the type of religious wackos I hate. It’s funny that I know more atheist and agnostics who live their lives like good “Christians” than most people who CALL them selves so, well besides the whole believing is Jesus bull.

      You are no “Christian” you can call yourself one all you like, but at the end of the day unless you live like one you’re going strait to hell with the rest of us, if it exists. So maybe stop being a jackass, rid yourself of all the hate and go read a decent book NOT written by a crackpot like Strobel…Doesn’t that sound like a good Christian idea? Funny that it’s coming from a nonbeliever.

    • Bryant said,

      oh and audio books? wtf lmao learn to read you idiot.

  32. Edwin Zackrison said,

    You must be quite afraid of Lee Strobel to spend so much time trying to trash him. He is man who has discovered a way of life that he sees as superior to his former agnosticism and atheism. So you don’t agree with him–fine, that’s not required but what are you doing to build up people’s faith? At least Strobel is attempting to give evidence from his perspective. You don’t have to agree with him. But don’t come to the public to trash him until you have something better to offer.

    I doubt that Strobel has claimed anywhere to be either flawless or infallible. There is no flawless or perfect apologetics. If they have flaws that doesn’t make them worthy of the title: “liar.” How strong is my argument if all I say is “As an atheist you are a liar.” Not an impressive solution or assertion with much veracity.

    Air tight cases do not exist for either Christians or atheists. And atheists are often just as controlling as they claim Christians are–maybe even more so because there are so few of them. So get off the judgmental wagon–it ain’t a happy place for anyone. Even if no case is air-tight we are all entitled to look at the evidence without being classified as liars. In the end you make your decision for faith on the basis of weight of evidence. I don’t agree with Bertrand Russell who said he would tell God “not enough evidence.” That is a choice everyone has to makes for faith or unfaith.

    • Bryant said,

      Edwin,
      Strobel is a public figure, who is selling a bunch of product which are attempting to convince people that there is a case for christianity being true. This opens him up to criticism and judgement. Why don’t you come out and say that if the comments aren’t favorable to your POV then you don’t like them? Strobel sells himself as a journalist who is doing an extensive amount of research on his topic and wants us the consumers to buy it, we have a right to call him out when he is lying and giving us poor journalism.

  33. Jace said,

    TOLERANCE!! Is more important than any Debate about Religion. Our GOD will allow you to live in the eternity of YOUR choice. If you choose to believe that there is Nothing after this life, then there will be Nothing FOR YOU! If you believe in reincarnation, than you may end up being a happy little ANT or COW. GOD respects and honors EVERYONES beliefs. I personally choose to believe in an “After Life”. That being said, those who wish to believe that they will rot in the ground in a vault filled with water and maggots, I feel confident that GOD will respect your wishes.

    • Bryant said,

      You speak of tolerance, but everything about your reply says you do not believe in it. I love Christian hypocrites, so amusing lmao.

      • Jesse said,

        Um, I’m fairly certain believing that God will allow you to reincarnate as other animals, and just “respect your wishes” in general, is good evidence of one’s non-Christian status.

  34. Rhonda said,

    Wow . . . I guess we will all find out in the end, won’t we?!!!! It comes down to realizing that your finite mind can not compare to an infinite God of the universe.

  35. Romeo Yere said,

    I have read both “The Case for Christ” and “The Case for Faith” from cover to cover and, I must say, they’ve answered most of my questions regarding the authenticity of the Bible and the existence of God himself. I truly thought that these books are a “must read” for the agnostics and atheists. I myself was an agnostic until I started reading these books. But now, sadly, I’m starting to have second thoughts. I don’t know what to believe anymore.

    Was the book “The Case for Faith” correct in saying that not everybody experiences Hell in the same way that Adolf Hitler is experiencing now (supposedly), that punishment in Hell is in direct proportion to the sins he/she has committed during his/her lifetime??

    • same as said,

      The Bible states that there is no degrees of sin, but it clearly states there is only one remedy, for it.

    • ahess said,

      Romeo, have you read “Erasing Hell” by Francis Chan? This may interest you.

  36. Josh said,

    If God doesn’t exist, then there is no “right” or “wrong”. No “good” nor “evil”. Those conditions are simply artificial circumstances made up by society. So an Athiest would, realistically, have no problems with murder, rape, robbery, arson, fraud, kidnapping or pedophilia.

    • Tersia said,

      An athieist is a person who does not believe in God – not a person without morals. Your statement implies that only a person who believes in God can be moral. Please don’t forget that in the name of God many Christians have committed murder, raped, robbed etc etc. Right or wrong are not concepts limited to a belief in God. Furthermore, your “God” I presume to be the Christian one. Do you also mean to say that any person who believes in some other deity can not distinguish between right or wrong?

      • Josh said,

        Well, we can argue until blue in the face. The one thing we can all agree on is that WE ALL DIE. So go ahead….. gamble with eternity… If your right we both end up in the same place after death. If I’m right we will end up in two very different places.

  37. same as said,

    WOW! so much time and effort to discredit a man who only wants to bring forward a message of love.

    • Galloway said,

      “WOW! so much time and effort to discredit a man who only wants to bring forward a message of love.” – You have to confabulate facts and history to “bring forward a message of love”?

  38. The search for our own truths..... said,

    I firmly believe in God. I FEEL him, period. I also believe that the evidence of intelligent design is all around us. I have often wondered where “our” bible fits in. I recently read The Case for Christ as part, just part mind you, of my journey in figuring this out for myself. My approach is not to read this as gospel. I have yet to read the gospels as gospel!! LOL. My next step is to explore further. I’ll find out what I can about Strobel as well as, and more importantly, the interviewees in the book. I don’t see Strobel as the knowledgebase for the message in the book. It’s the folks he’s interviewing. Yes, by putting this together, Strobel is making “his” case. DUH. That is okay with me. I’m glad he did it. It’s an interesting work as it is. Of course, I’ll continue my study and make up my own mind as to the validity of the interviewees and their facts as written.

    As for the case, presented here by some, that Christians are ALL idiots with a narrow view of the world based on ignorance and superstition………. Well, that seems like a very narrow view of the world, people, and well……. quite ignorant.

    • The search for our own truths..... said,

      Certainly, not all of my own questions were asked by Strobel. But the questions he did ask were of great interest to me.

      • The search for our own truths..... said,

        Also, the case that atheists are, by definition, immoral is as narrow minded as the case that all Christians are idiots……

        • The search for our own truths..... said,

          Correction: The case presented does not refer to ALL Christians. Just MOST. Still not right.

  39. ahess said,

    Just thought I would share some insights that I found. FYI-Luke’s account lines up in virtually every area with historical documents of the day.

    There are two possiblilities found here:
    The first proposal accepts that Varus was governor, but he was not a good leader, losing three legions of soldiers in a battle in Germany. However, Quirinius was a strong military leader who put down the Homonadensian rebellion in Asia Minor. So when it came time for the census to be conducted, Caesar Augustus sent Quirinius to deal with the explosive region governed by Varus, essentially elevating Quirinius to the position of a governing authority—even higher than Governor Varus during that time. While describing a census that took place during Christ’s childhood, Josephus explained just how unstable Israel became when Rome conducted censuses.
    Now Cyrenius [Quirinius], a Roman senator and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to be a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance . . . came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus’s money; (3) but the Jews, although at the beginning they took the report of a taxation heinously, yet did they leave off any farther opposition to it, by the persuasion of Joazar . . . yet there was one Judas, a Gaulonite . . . who, taking with him Sadduc, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty . . . so men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; (7) one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends, who used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murders of our principal men. This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; (8) whence arose seditions, and from them murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people (by the madness of these men towards one another, while their desire was that none of the adverse party might be left).6
    Since the Jewish people often revolted against aggressive actions of their oppressors, such as taxation, Caesar would have made sure to send a highly qualified person to handle a difficult situation. Josephus recorded that Quirinius was just such a person. Luke did not use an official title for Quirinius, but said that he “was governing Syria” (Luke 2:2), meaning that Quirinius was in charge of that region during the time of the census.

    Second, is to look at the common translation of the passage . “This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria” (Luke 2:2). This sentence could also be translated as “This census took place before Quirinius was governing Syria.”9 This would require translating prōtos (“first”) as “before,” which is plausible. If this is the proper way to understand the Greek, then any hint of a contradiction on this point disappears.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/03/16/feedback-conservative-journalist-attacks-genesis-birth-of-christ#fnMark_1_9_1

  40. Galloway said,

    This blog verbalizes so comprehensively the many criticisms I have with Strobel. You articulate them well, for the most part, and your responses to the apologists and irredeemably (to invoke an irony) indoctrinated woks for me. It’s not just that Strobel fraudulently professes to examine the facts and science in depth, it’s that he selects only “scholars” who can produce conclusions that he has predetermined. This is dishonest science, in that scientists seek to disprove their hypotheses (even if they hope or believe the hypothesis to stand by the weight of evidence, not against it). Strobel does something quite different: He deliberately ignores, doesn’t hear, doesn’t seem to want to hear the evidence to the contrary. If evidence doesn’t conform to his pre-decided conclusion on the “authenticity” of Jesus, we will never hear about it.

    A question to someone who said the question of the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum has settled down: I wonder in what circles it has settled down? I think the Jesus passages in Josephus appear conspicuously out of context.

    Some of the respondents argue gracefully and intelligently, but true to form there are a few who simply aren’t interested or incapable of cogent argument, and instead gush the usual pathetic attempts at denial, guilt, and magical curses because you have the audacity to question the dominant paradigm, etc., etc. I hear this all the time from the backward Bible Belt types here in Florida.

    Well done, sir.

  41. [...] I am no fan of Strobel, of course. If you want to read a biting criticism of his work see “The Case Against Lee Strobel” on the Evaluating Christianity [...]

  42. mark said,

    I have to say that I am appalled at how many Christians have defended Strobel’s obvious and deliberate deception. Micrographic letters are imaginary – no such things exist on any ancient coins, it is a patent nonsense. Any young Christian who took the claims of Strobel to be truthful would surely be devastated when a few seconds of research would prove that he was lying – this is why it matters, young Christians will know that they are being lied to by the people that they trust.

  43. After reading all these criticisms hurled against Strobel, I don’t know what to believe anymore. I too have some serious questions about the modus operandi of God Himself (especially of the way He metes out punishment to the most heinous evildoers) and of the authenticity of the Bible which, unfortunately, I find it hard to read because I found that many of the passages can’t be taken quite literally. For instance, Matthew 7:1 says “Thou shall not judge lest you be judged”, but upon reading John 7:24, I found the passage to somehow contradict the Matthew passage. The word “suicide” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible, so I have no way of knowing whether “suicide” constitutes murder or not. Lee Strobel himself never brought up the word “suicide” in any of his interviews with the “experts” on the field.

    Is there another atheist-turned-Christian journalist who, like Strobel, asked the tough and searching questions regarding God, the Bible,……..during his interviews with the experts on the field and who can be regarded as more credible than Lee Strobel??

    • Tammy said,

      Pedro,

      I can relate to how you feel. I am a true Jesus Freak for life and I love Atheists. If anybody can find a false prophet, they can and that is a good thing. God teaches us not to follow blindly. It is our responsibility to search for the truth. Only a fool believes everything he/ she reads. God wants us to seek him actively. That means putting in the time and effort for research. Thank God for google. Read Strobel’s book and then research it and take away only what can be proven. When I first started reading the bible, I couldn’t understand a thing. Patience, persistence and prayer. Mathew 7. God is saying don’t judge other people because you will be judged as well. God will pass judgement on us the same way we pass judgement on other people. Try being a greeter at a church and you will see how hard it is not to judge people. You will see people coming into church wearing clothes that in my mind are inappropriate. They looked like they just came from a club. Who am I to judge them. Who am I to tell them their clothes are wrong. I know I have done things wrong in my life and do I want God to disregard me because I am not wearing a shirt he likes. I was a greeter at my church until God called me to another service and it was a huge lesson for me. Matthew is for us to learn how to be towards others. You don’t want God to judge you harshly, so don’t judge others in the same manner. In John, Jesus is giving the so called church leaders a smack down. Law is, no working for profit on the Sabbath. The church leaders went nuts and took that simple commandment from God and turned it into some of the most strict rules that even a saint could keep. God just wanted you to take a day off to spend time with him and your family. That’s it. It doesn’t go any deeper than that. Now, the people had a fit because he healed (worked) on the Sabbath. Which by their standards, Jesus broke a commandment. Jesus is basically telling the people, know the full story before you start judging people. They judged Jesus for breaking a commandment, but they also broke the commandment by preforming circumcisions on the Sabbath. The debate on Strobel is a perfect example. Do you judge him as a fraud based upon what someone wrote on the internet or do you look beneath the surface and dig deeper. Find out for yourself, then decide if he is a false prophet. My opinion is that suicide is murder. It’s self murder and yes, thou shalt not commit murder. Now, is God going to send a person straight to hell because they commit suicide. I think not. Jesus is all about compassion and mercy. I don’t really give a damn what other Christians think. I know my God. Suicide is different than murdering someone else and that is just common sense. That’s the beauty of this world, we all interpret the Word slightly different and sometimes you have to look at the intent of the passage instead of taking it literally. God is harsh in the old testament, but there is a reason why. God is the father and we are his children. Sometimes you give your kids tough love when they start acting a fool. Same principal. His people were acting a fool and he needed to lay down the law to get them back on track. The punishments had to be sever or they wouldn’t take it seriously. That’s why God brought Jesus into the world. He knew we were going to mess up. He knew we couldn’t keep the commandments 24/7. Jesus brings the grace and forgiveness. I hope this helps. Keep searching. You will feel him.

  44. gfmucci said,

    Actually, we should all judge. The “do not judge” verses address hypocrisy, not a taboo against discernment. We can judge for good or we can judge for evil. Obsessive skeptics are judges for the latter.

  45. Galloway said,

    There are no honest creationists, if by creationist you mean a person who disregards mountains of evidence in order to protect his or her own belief system. There is absolutely no Biblical reason why a Christian must be a creationist. To the person who said it requires more faith to believe in Evolution, that’s like saying it takes more faith to believe in electricity. In other words, you strung together some intelligent-sounding words, but your statement doesn’t even make sense, since evolution, like electricity, can be demonstrated to exist, while creationism cannot.

    • Really? No honest creationists? Jesus? Paul? Peter? Of course none of these disregarded “mountains of evidence,” nor do any knowledgable creationists today. We simply see that evidence through biblical lenses that put it all in perspective. I believe in electricity because I see it at work, I’ve been shocked by it, and there is nothing about it that is repudiated by the Word of God. I don’t believe in evolution because nobody has ever seen it at work, no body has ever experienced it, and it is contrary to the Book that describes creation written by the Creator.

      • mark said,

        Sadly Jim, if you actually believe that the Bible was written by the creator than you know less about your own faith than you do about science. Read your Bible Jim, it even tells you who wrote it.

        • kenn pappas said,

          There’s some evidence the Bible was written by a guy named Clancy, though there’s plenty of doubters … [sorry].

  46. Ftrf said,

    Fred said, September 4, 2012
    How do YOU demonstrate evolution? Whatever you use, can only be explained by using a cell or organism man cannot create alone. How about creating a seed that has all the DNA of the plant, tree or fruit it produces? Man comes from a microscopic egg fertilized by a microscopic sperm that contains DNA of both the man and the woman including generations back? That is a rather good demonstration of creation which can be applied to all many forms.

  47. At the end of all the debate and science, it comes down to the matter of faith. Each person must choose for himself in what or in whom he believes and places his trust and must live and die with the consequences of that choice. I believe that Jesus Christ is Savior, Redeemer, Lord. I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, the Creator. For those of you who read this and have not come to Christ in faith, I encourage you to read God’s revelation to us in the Bible. I dare you to ask God to reveal the truth to you. He will if you ask. God has given us all that we need to take the step of faith and meet Him, know Him, walk with Him and experience the love and acceptance He intended for us all to know. Won’t you consider Him? He gave His all for you on the cross, took your place though He was sinless, so that you would have the opportunity to be reconciled with a holy and perfect God and live with Him forever. It’s not too late; He is waiting for you.

    • Galloway said,

      The “it all comes down to faith” argument is unsatisfactory. It is equivalent to substituting ignorance for actual knowledge. I have faith that my neighbor’s cat is a spayed female. I don’t know, of course, because I never bothered to actually investigate in the most objective way. It is better to say, “I don’t really know.”

      • Sam Harrington said,

        Your comment presupposes that my statements reflect that I have not bothered to “actually investigate”. People have sought to discredit the claims of Christ and the Bible for over 2000 years. The overwhelming body of evidence is that Christ is exactly who He said He is and that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God. But if your decision to accept or reject Christ is governed solely by your assessment of the sufficiency of empirical data, you are perhaps overlooking the possibility that God intended that ultimately we would come to Him only through the doorway of faith.

  48. Faith is not ignorance. You have faith in things you have investigated and find to have high probability. Anything else is wishful thinking. I, too, believe Jesus is the prophesied Messiah of Israel and Savior of the World. I don’t wish it were so; I am persuaded (by evidence) that it is so.

    • Galloway said,

      People “persuaded” that the Bible is valid and reliable tend to already be predisposed to that indoctrination. It is not self evident. The Gospels are books written for the purpose of inventing a new religion, so of course they are going to describe a myth that its authors intended to convey. It is no more reliable to believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior just because it says so in the Gospel of John, for instance, than it is to believe that Dumbledore is a wise old magician just because it says so in Harry Potter. And just because a gospel contains some facts, like the names of kings or governors or cities makes it no more historical than CSI Miami takes place in the real city of Miami, or that a Tom Clancy novel mentions Washington, D.C. or submarines.

      • Sam Harrington said,

        Take a look at John Ortberg’s new book, Who is this Man?, it may impact your thoughts about Christ and the Bible. I can tell you are searching for truth. Don’t give up. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He will. Bless you, friend.

        • Galloway said,

          “Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He will. Bless you” If you’re speaking in mystical, supernatural terms then we are equally blessed to choose any metaphysical avatar who can change our psyche to beneficial effect. With eyes wide open, we see that some people are blessed, some people in pain, and they all think of themselves as Christian. There’s no rhyme or reason, except that it is a probabilities game.

      • Isn’t it obvious that the “new religion” was already established before the Gospels were written? They were not written to “invent a new religion” (something literature is incapable of doing anyway). The new religion was not new–it was a continuation of the ancient religion of Judaism and the fulfillment of the Jewish prophecies. I’m not aware of any apologist who seeks to prove the Lordship of Jesus on the inspiration of the Gospels. The gospels are taken as historical documents–and they are generally conceded to be reliable history until a naturalist encounters the supernatural in them–then they are rejected on ideological grounds. Until one is open to the possibility that there may a God, it is pointless to try to convince him/her of the reliability of the Bible, the identity of Jesus, or any other spiritual reality.

        • mark said,

          No Jim, the fact is that the gospels are not seen by historians (or even most theologians) as being historically reliable. The exodus for example is not supported by a single shred of evidence other than scripture.

        • Galloway said,

          “No Jim, the fact is that the gospels are not seen by historians (or even most theologians) as being historically reliable. The exodus for example is not supported by a single shred of evidence other than scripture.”

          I have to concur with Mark. The miracles are in the Gospels, and nowhere else. You can write in Roman Legions, King Herod, Pontius Pilate, and Nazareth all you want, that doesn’t make a work of fiction qualify as “historically accurate.” Now, give us an example from other sources that these things (miracles) happened, and maybe they are credible. Unfortunately, no such primary or secondary sources, outside of the gospels, exist.

          Conclusion? Hoax.

        • kenn pappas said,

          I have realized over a period of time where the story of the baby in the manger comes from … Matthew’s head. There does not need to be a tradition to create this story. The story itself is similar to Frosty the Snowman or Hard Rock, Coco and Joe … they’re feel-good stories that make Church members stronger believers. If this is the rationale behind such stories, then I’l all for it. As to the actual verifiable history of the baby in the manger story, I wonder whether it really mattered to Matthew. I suspect he was the author of the tale (whoever Matthew really is), much like a modern cartoonist and story writer collaborate to weave an animated tale that brings on nostalgia and a good feeling to an audience favorable to a common object of belief, in this case, Jesus. I suspect there’s something similar going on with miracle. I wonder if miracle was merely a backdrop to make Jesus appear more important, larger-than-life, if you will, something believers could visualize. People probably shared stories of how everyone knew someone who suddenly walked, talked and could see after previously being lame, mute or blind. There really was no reason to supply a medical alternative, since there were not a lot of medical alternatives available to people in the first century. As a result, miracle was just as good as any other explanation for what people could not explain, and it was a small leap of faith to see miracle as God (or Jesus) generated.

        • DagoodS said,

          Jim Kinnebrew,

          Actually, the gospels are in the bios genre—not histories. And even Christians (let alone theists) reject supernatural claims within them, so it cannot be limited to a naturalistic approach.

          I was curious whether you had an opportunity to review my posts above and come to a conclusion whether Strobel lied about his doing research on micro-lettering?

        • Galloway said,

          “Isn’t it obvious that the “new religion” was already established before the Gospels were written? They were not written to “invent a new religion” (something literature is incapable of doing anyway).”

          I couldn’t disagree more. We can concede there may have been a teacher named Jesus who was revered as much as any popular charismatic teacher of our own time. So what? That’s nothing new. But to create edifying miracles that would attract people who are prone to such things takes a skillful promotional writer. Otherwise you are asking us to believe in the miracles. And why should we believe the miracles? Oh, yes, because they were written in the Gospels. Nothing more about them outside of the gospels. Just written in to the gospels, and nowhere else.

          The motility of Christianity certainly rested on skillful fiction writers, not truth. The ability to weave historical landmarks into the gospels makes them no more historically truthful than a Tom Clancy novel writing about the White House means his novels are historical fact.

        • kenn pappas said,

          One of the best arguments that a Christian supporter of the gospels as historical has, though he may not know it, is that the gospels were not particularly skillfully written. Each gospel possesses philosophical discrepancies, irreconcilable contradictions, and betray the gospel writers, each one of them, as less skilled than the capabilities as writers for which some people give them credit. As a result, some lines and passages, such as the report that the tomb was empty, may have an element of truth to it. There’s not much skill in reporting an empty tomb, and the myths surrounding the empty tomb — one or two angels in the tomb, depending on a reading of Matthew or Luke, a couple women or Peter and the Beloved Disciple showing up to evidence the empty tomb — are not all that creative in their reporting. But … maybe there is a basis for fact that the tomb was empty. Why it was empty is the point of dispute, and the basis for faith. An atheist, if accepting the empty tomb as fact, could say that the body was stolen, the tomb was the wrong tomb that the women and / or disciples visited, the body was never really placed in the tomb, Jesus woke up and walked away, since He did miraculously recover from His injuries, not so severe as believed. The believer finds that the empty tomb, as accepted as fact, indicates that the empty tomb means that the wrecked body of Jesus was somehow miraculously restored (except for a couple remnant nail holes in His hands as reported in John), and eventually was whisked off into space, Heaven, if you will. To some, the empty tomb is just a place where a miraculous explanation is needed to fortify belief in the risen Christ, and to others, just an empty tomb with no plausible explanation except for reasons previously indicated. It seems likely there was an empty tomb; this report could be factual, precisely because the writers aren’t that skilled, and would have reported this fact, except that they needed to supply the Resurrection as a way to explain a reason for the empty tomb. What makes the gospels so interesting to read is that the writers, being unskilled and semi-literate, leave us with a puzzle, and what attracts non-believers to the story is that many of us, like me, love a good puzzle. Believer or non-believer, the stories are fascinating … for reasons that are radically different, of course. However, I do recall what the Bishop Robinson asked … I’ll paraphrase … `why are atheists compelled to read the gospels if they possess no belief whatsoever?’ It’s the strange effect that gospels cause on the reader; the stories, though crude in their writing, are different than any other type of literature, and read with some facts, enough to cause the reader who is a non-believer to want to unravel them. Maybe the believer sees a little too much in the gospels, or wants to, but in a macabre way, both believers and non-believers are attracted to the magic in the gospels.

  49. kenn pappas said,

    Even though Lee Strobel may not gain acceptance among atheists, he is certainly not subject to such opprobrious terminology such as “idiot” or “liar”. In fact, Mr. Strobel presents one of the best cases in defense of Christian believers that exists in the 21st century. As with those who argue for Creationism versus Evolution (as presented by Darwin), there are well-crafted arguments that will win the debate and “prove” the hypothesis every time if the opponent of Creationism is not well-prepared with an evidence-based argument to the contrary.

    Lee Strobel presents a well-thought out argument for corroboration by extensive examination of the gospels and those persons who purport to be experts. Mr. Strobel falls victim to one of the most salient traps in logic, argumentum ad vericundium (argument from authority, e.g., if a person possesses enough degrees, or graduated from a prominent divinity school, he must be more right than others, However, that being said, his argument for faith is one of the points made in numerous presentations at the grand convention in Munich, Germany, that the basic premise for belief or disbelief in the Christ rests on whether or not Jesus got up out of the grave, the empty tomb, if you will.

    One of the best counter-arguments from a scientific point of view is this: precisely how did Jesus’ cellular material recreate itself to the point where he was recognizable as the Jesus He was before the whippings, beatings, and crucifixion. How, in biological terms, did God “fix him” ? John says Thomas put his fingers in Jesus’ holes in his palms. In what other manner did Jesus appear injured to the early witnesses? If God was able to “fix him” so that He, Jesus, received a sort of Heaven-generated plastic-surgery make-over, then precisely how did this occur, especially since no medical doctor is able to perform such a miracle in modern times?

    A true believer can nod his or her head and explain that the disbeliever is merely ignorant of miracle, an argumentum ad ignorantium, e.g., if you can’t demonstrate that miracle is not possible, then maybe it really is. However, what makes it really hard for the disbeliever to accept about miracle is that there is no known explanation from medicine or science that can possible demonstrate that a person can be subjected to whippings, beatings, and crucifixion like Jesus is reported to have undergone, and get up a few days later virtually unharmed.

    What would make the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection easier to accept is if we had at least one other miraculous Resurrection take place with a proportion of people equal to the alleged 500 witnesses reported in 1 Corinthians 15 seeing this miracle.

    Perhaps there’s some truth to the old argument that Thomas Didymos (the Twin), was a Jesus look-alike, and that he made appearances pretending he was Jesus after Jesus suffered a fatal demise due to the whippings, beatings, and crucifixion. After a time, Thomas, the Jesus post-crucifixion imposter, disappears. Well, there’s probably not enough evidence to assume this, is there, especially since there’s no evidence-based proof.

    Lee Strobel’s arguments break down on many levels, primarily because he does not afford the same credence to atheists’ arguments and sound evidence that contravenes faith-based presentations.

    However, I must say this to all atheists? How does it assist any argument to call the person presenting an opposing view an “idiot”? Lee Strobel is certainly no “idiot”; he writes lucidly, and his presentation, regardless of whether you accept his premises, is well-researched and represents the case for Christ to which many Christian scholars and believers ascribe. Faith becomes a powerful life-guiding force for many people, and it would be a heinous crime to take the power of faith away from those people who accept Jesus as the Christ. It is, after all, their prerogative to believe what they choose to believe, isn’t it?

    • mark said,

      Strobel is not an idiot – but he is unquestionably a liar. His claims are not at all ‘well researched’, they are instead deliberately distorted and deceptive.

      • Where have you caught Strobel in a lie? Please give me the location of that lie and how you know that what he has said there is not true but a deliberate lie. Thanks!

        • mark said,

          No Jim. atheism is not a position that demands any faith whatsoever – in fact it is the absence of religious faith. If there were any logical, rational or reasonable evidence for theism, I would happily consider it. I am an atheist because I have never seen any such evidence for deity – and so atheism is simply the rejection of an unevidenced (and implausible) claim. Rejecting an unevidenced implausible claim is because it is unevidenced and implausible is a perfectly rational position.

        • mark said,

          Sure, well one of Strobel’s more obscene lies were his comments associating evolution and Darwin with the Nazi’s. The fact is that the NAZI banned Darwins book and forbade the teaching of evolution. Darwin was no more responsible for eugenics and the holocaust than Newton was responsible for all harm done by ballistic weapons. There are a great many overt lies, deceptions, distortions and outright frauds in Strobel’s work – I am happy to discuss all or any of them with you.

        • kenn pappas said,

          It would be a stretch of the imagination to assume that Strobel associates evolution and Darwin with the Nazis … unless there is a comment taken completely out of context … Strobel is far too intelligent to promulgate such an absurd idea; you may disagree with his justification of the Resurrection as a fact-based event, but he’s certainly not an advocate of Darwin or evolution being associated with Nazis (unless you mean that he referred to the specious belief that the Nazis promoted, that it can be assumed that extermination of non-Aryans was a fulfillment of “survival of the fittest”, a Nazi belief, but not a Strobel one).

        • DagoodS said,

          Jim Kinnebrew,

          If you review my comments above, (given almost 3 ½ years ago!) I lay out in very specific form—based upon Strobel’s own words—why he is a liar. He either lied about the research he claimed he did, OR he lied about finding the “micro-lettering.”

          Again, Strobel specifically states he did NOT trust McVey regarding the alleged micro-lettering and Strobel specifically states he DID additional research on this “micro-lettering.” What possible research could Strobel have done to confirm any archeologist ever claimed there was such a thing as “mico-lettering.”

          But that is exactly what Strobel claims.

    • mark said,

      In regard to your comments about faith – well eliminating faith would be a very positive step. Faith is way that you can ignore evidence, reason and logic in order to ‘believe’ in something that is patently false. As such I can see no positive value to faith whatsoever. The benefits of faith are not at all obvious to atheists, from the atheist perspective we would generally prefer to believe what is true, not what we wish to be true. By applying faith you simply ignore the value of knowledge.

      • I assume you have faith in your atheistic views. By that I simply mean you believe them to be true . Does that mean you “ignore evidence, reason, and logic”? I’m sure you will answer no.

        Nor does Christian faith mean that. Faith is the end result of considering evidence, reasoning, and logically coming to a conclusion. There is nothing unreasonable or illogical about believing what you have concluded is most likely the truth. Many of the comments on this forum make it clear that participants have largely ignored the evidence for Christianity and are ignorant of the nature of what that evidence is.

        • mark said,

          No, you are confusing faith for some other term. Faith (in the context of religion) is not the ‘end result of considering evidence, reasoning, and logically coming to a conclusion’ – that is simply not at all what theologians or philosophers have defined faith to be. I do not ignore the evidence for Christianity – I have simply never seen an example of such evidence that bears any kind of critical analysis.

      • kenn pappas said,

        Imagine a world without faith where a little old lady can’t light a candle in order to appeal to God to take care of the soul of her grandson shot down in combat. Perhaps she doesn’t need encyclopedic knowledge to live a better life, just a bright candle. Those who don’t need faith are best to leave those persons alone that do. Of course there are good reasons for faith, and as human beings, we all seek some type of answers to our questions. It would be a stretch of the imagination to say that we have hard-core evidence, for instance, for what occurred in the first few nanoseconds after the Big Bang, even after attesting to the brilliant mathematical calculations that Alan Guth presents for inflation theory. This explanation suffices, much like string theory, to make many people believe that there is sufficient explanation for the start, development, and current fabric of the universe. However, there is some logic to the statement that this type of presentation is merely a “faith” in scientific explanation. This type of science, though, is not tantamount to some of the great truths, Avogadro’s number, the Theory of Relativity, Laws of Thermodynamics. Religion and science seek answers, and both supply a type of anodyne cure to our inability to come up with perfect answers. Maxwell’s principles of electricity for some, little old lady’s candles for others. Faith does have a purpose.

        • mark said,

          I still see no value in faith – you appear to ascribe to it no more than a sort of vague placebo effect. Faith is the opposite of knowedge – as to your comments about theoretical physics I’m sorry but I can’t see any relevance. Although for some bizarre reason Christian apologists consistently mistake atheism for theoretical physics – they remain unrelated.

        • kenn pappas said,

          I’m not equating theoretical physics with atheism. I’m only saying that atheists assume that there are irrational people in the world (true) that must be converted to rational thinking for their own good (not true). I will stick to this claim and it’s unerring proof — as long as there is one believer in a God, then there is a God — as long as there is one believer in a wormhole, then there is a wormhole. Both can be created on a computer (as long as one more person believes in the definition of each’s parameters). Both concepts are speculative and cannot be presented with any concrete proof. Wormholes can be demonstrated as the necessary consequence of a distortion of space-time, but not demonstrated as an actual discovery, hence, a theoretical concept. God can be offered as a being greater than all beings we currently know, but no greater being than those we currently know can be demonstrated. If a little old lady wants to believe in a being greater than all known beings, then let her light her candle and be happy with the thought that this type of being exists — or if she wants to grow senile and traverse down a wormhole, let her do that too, or for that matter, any other human being that’s somewhat irrational in some ways, because there is no human being that doesn’t display a bit of irrationality, and that’s just as important if more important than living in a purely rational world. Belief in God through faith … if it’s truly faith … doesn’t need an object. Of course this type of belief is irrational by definition, but serves a necessary function for those who can’t or won’t think through the myriad of mathematical concepts and proofs that scientists take for granted because they can and will think through the concepts and proofs.

        • mark said,

          “I’m not equating theoretical physics with atheism. I’m only saying that atheists assume that there are irrational people in the world (true) that must be converted to rational thinking for their own good (not true). I will stick to this claim and it’s unerring proof — as long as there is one believer in a God, then there is a God — as long as there is one believer in a wormhole, then there is a wormhole. “(Ken)

          Frankly Ken, that was just plain assinine, I live in a country where religion is rarely mentioned – and so your accusation that ‘atheists assume that there are irrational people in the world (true) that must be converted to rational thinking for their own good’ – is simply a fraud. I do not seek to convert anybody, nor are atheists in general at all interested in conversion. Frankly I find your comment offensive – in that hundreds of thousands of Christian Churches and evangelists spend countless millions of hours proselytizing and attempting to convert people – but NO SUCH EQUIVALENT ORGANISATION EVEN EXISTS WITHIN ATHEISM!

          As to your next comment; ‘ as long as there is one believer in a God, then there is a God — as long as there is one believer in a wormhole, then there is a wormhole.’(Ken) – well that is nonsense, what we believe is irrelevant to reality. If a million people believed in smurfs – that does not in any way make smurfs real.

        • Galloway said,

          ” I’m only saying that atheists assume that there are irrational people in the world (true) that must be converted to rational thinking for their own good (not true).”

          Hey, to each his own. If there are people who choose to cling to superstition and myth, all the power to them. These discussions are important, however, precisely because evangelists are trying to convert everybody to their way of thinking. Outwardly evangelists are crying that they are being persecuted. To the evangelist, persecution means being deprived of the right to shove their beliefs onto the population at large, and being deprived of their perceived supremacy in national policy.

          They can claim persecution all they want, but Strobel is a magnet for the crusade to strong arm a secular government into institutionalizing Christianity as a state religion, and injecting Genesis in place of accepted biology in our public schools. This must not be allowed, and non-Christians need not accept it passively.

    • Galloway said,

      “Mr. Strobel presents one of the best cases in defense of Christian believers that exists in the 21st century.”

      And therein lies the problem to Christianity! The best case is built on specious evidence and loopy reasoning.

      • mark said,

        Exactly – Christian apologetics has devolved into nothing more than a blunt and overt fraud. It relies entirely on obfuscation, distortion and conjouring deitties from semantic word play. As such it can only be destructive to Christianity.

      • kenn pappas said,

        Specious evidence and loopy reasoning are emotive expressions; in fact, my point is that it is extremely difficult for those who are not trained in logical thinking or presentation of evidence-based fact to compete with Christian believers that spend a good part of their lives arguing for the “factual” Resurrection. This is one of the reasons why Christianity is still a powerful force today.

        Personally, I have no problem with faith-based arguments, e.g., “I may not be able to prove my faith, but it makes me feel better and function more fully.” However, when a person tries to present the Resurrection as factual, I always reason in this manner: Precisely how did the severely beaten and crucified Jesus transition into the Christ-like apparition that appears to the disciples in John and as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15? In other words, what changed in the cells? Was there a sudden flow of ATP that somehow rebuilt cellular walls and staved off the formation of scar-like material? Did plasma somehow preclude all bleeding and cause a blood coagulation that somehow rebuilt cell material at a rate not possible or ever produced in any other real life situation? Of course, I’m just tossing out terminology without a true biological explanation … but this is the point. There has to be a way that a body can reconstruct in a manner where another body can also reconstruct in the same manner for the process to repeat and be verifiable. If not, then the only possibility is an alternative explanation such as (1) Jesus never died, (2) the disciples were deceived or hallucinated, (3) Thomas Didymus (the “Twin”) took Jesus’ place after He was crucified and died, (4) the story grew into a physical resurrection from a strong belief that somehow Jesus came back, i,e., belief in a spiritual resurrection transitioned into a belief in a physical one over time. The real argument is this: precisely how do people come back from the dead? If there were ways to examine how people come back from the dead in a biological manner rather than a conceptual manner that cannot be explained, there’d be a helluva lot more believers … .

        • Galloway said,

          One year ago I got to witness the caravan of believers that insisted the world was coming to an end. These were all brand new vans covered in the graphics and Bible verses that were used to rationalize spending all their money on the end times. A young man gave me a brochure at the beach. I think I kept it as a souvenir somewhere. Anyway, this is the logical conclusion of belief, and since this set of believers went out on a limb to actually name a day, we have every right to use this event to show that Christianity (at least in its modern usage) is a fraud.

          Now, many Christians will use the “Not a true Scotsman” logical fallacy, but this is weak and a matter of style between Christians bold enough to say “on such and such a date the world will end” and those who don’t quite have the balls to get too specific. They are all the same fraud, but some are outed sooner than others.

          I agree that if Christ was a man (a confusing point, but I think Christians call him a man) and he obviously had two nostrils, so he breathed, he obviously bled, he ate food, then he was subject to the laws of biology, and it’s a legitimate (but rather stupid) discussion to explain the resurrection in terms of his biology. I think all sorts of possibilities besides biology can explain resurrection:
          - It never happened. I like this one because the resurrection witnesses speak in very vague, uncertain language about what they were seeing. It’s as if they were looking into their imaginations and making flowery narrative.
          - Jesus was never crucified.
          - Jesus didn’t die. Maybe he was taken down from the cross and nursed back to health.

          I don’t care what happened, because on the balance the rest of the narrative doesn’t stack up. If there is a shred of truth buried within a body of lies, then it’s not compelling enough for me to believe it as a religion. An allegory? perhaps. But not enough rationality and certainty to stake my own life, or “soul” upon.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Actually, I have tried recently to take a mitigating approach toward Christians, especially those who don’t proselytize and really need a God-belief in order to sustain themselves. But I agree, the belief system is hard to stomach, since it comes up with the simple answer without examining the fallacies involved with concepts such as transfiguration, transmigration, resurrection, trinity (three guys in one), and other unsupportable and illogical ideas.

  50. Sam Harrington said,

    I would be i interested to hear what any of you think after reading John Ortberg’s most recent book, Who is this Man?

  51. Bill Fossat said,

    You can always tell a man by his enemies. Nobody goes to this much trouble to assassinate somebody’s character unless that person HAS some character.

    • kenn pappas said,

      I agree, Bill. Lee Strobel, whether people agree with all of his thoughts or not, is certainly a wise and respectable person, and deserves far better treatment than to be labeled a “liar” or “idiot” … .

      This type of language is used by persons that are not familiar with the art of argument among thinkers. Lee Strobel is certainly a thinker. He is well-aware of the major points that are discussed among Christian and non-Christian scholars when examining key points related to research in new testament (and some old testament) historical theology.

      Emotive language, when leveled at a thinker, betrays the lack of thinking of the person opposed to the thinker.

      It’s easy to call someone names. It is much more difficult to understand how he comes to his conclusions.

      One of the most important points of Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus is not to determine how thinkers of the 18th and 19th century were wrong in their thinking, but rather how they contributed to an examination of the gospels in order to bring us to some current day thinking. Sometimes even when one errs in his thinking, he still contributes to a point worth being considered.

      Personally, I don’t agree with much of what Lee Strobel writes. However, I truly enjoyed his book, and believe it is important and well worth reading for anyone interested in historical theology.

      • mark said,

        I disagree strongly – Strobel is indeed a liar, a charlatan and is unquestionably guilty of deliberately misrepresenting the data. This is not name calling – it is proveable and proven.

        • kenn pappas said,

          … but your misspelling of “proveable” [sic] is not … . Here’s what you need to consider: Merely calling a person a “liar”, a “cheat” or other unruly language does not convince anyone of your case. In fact, by offering name-calling as a “proof”, you only strengthen your opponent’s resistance to paying any heed to what you have to say. Learning to respect another’s approach and opinion, and to arm yourself with a good argument in opposition, is the way to convince others of your point (s). Name-calling doesn’t change anyone’s mind.

        • mark said,

          No, you are simply wrong – Strobel is indeed a liar and a fraud – that has been proven. I am not at all reaciting emotionally, I made a blunt statement of proveable fact. Many people here have identified over and over specific and proven examples of Strobel’s dishonesty. I attack his character because his character has been shown to be that of a dishonest charlatan. And yes I would happily debate Strobel on his ressurection claims, they are as empty, unfounded and dishonest as is much of his other apologetics.
          As a specific example of a well known and established fraud from Lee Strobel I suggest you examine his claims regarding micrographic letters.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Mark, you know what a tautology is, right? It’s when you use a word or phrase to prove the case for the same thing that you just stated. In other words, when you call someone a “liar” or “fraud” because he’s been proven to be a “charlatan”, then you have not proven anything; all you have done is to create a circular argument. Circular arguments do not prove anything; they merely leave you running in circles (another tautology). Careful, be aware that by passing over the same street repeatedly, you don’t get any better at navigating roads; you only get better at passing over the same streets. Read over Lee Strobel’s presentation carefully, and familiarize yourself with the New Testament if you want to personally understand what the debate between believers and non-believers is about. Otherwise, you’ll find that you’ll lose every debate to believers. If this is not important to you, i.e., gaining a detailed perspective of the arguments that believers, scholarly ones, present, then why even concern yourself with the debate? Why not just drop the attack and take up something more pleasurable like Archie comics?

        • mark said,

          What does Lee Strobel care for the Kitzmiller Dover trial? Well indeed – you have proven my point. Arguing for ID after the KD trial makes Lee a fraud. As to your rather long winded commentry on my grammer – spare me.

    • mark said,

      Oh puhlease! Strobel got cought out in so many lies, distortions and outright falsehoods that there is no question of his dishonesty.

      • kenn pappas said,

        What makes it difficult for the cause of true critical thinkers, especially when debating major issues related to Christian thinking, is that there are individuals that proclaim atheism that present themselves emotionally rather that using critical thinking and knowledge to state their case. Emphatically, Lee Strobel is not a liar, a cheat, or “misinformed” … . He is a believer that examines issues with a particular premise or premises that may be flawed (argumentum ad vericundium, for instance), but is in no sense worthy of inimical attacks on his character. In fact, his book, The Case for Christ, is an excellent presentation of the “Christian” side of the Resurrection story, and if an atheist takes issue with his presentation, he’d better come well-armed to the debate, because Lee Strobel has done his homework and wears a good set of titanium armor.

        • mark said,

          You have hold of the wrong end of the stick – Strobel’s claims and evidences HAVE been critically analysed, they were exposed as fraudulent.

        • kenn pappas said,

          … and “they” exposed Lee Strobel as fraudulent. Who? Of course Lee Strobel is in error, if you mean that by assuming that the Resurrection is tantamount to factual or evidence-based, he “proved” the case. However, Lee Strobel is not writing to convince the non-believer that Resurrection is factual; he’s writing to believers. What is remarkable about his book is that he is aware of the importance of 1 Corinthians 15 as the tradition passed on by the disciples, that he pinpoints this passage as perhaps the earliest of all new testament references, that he understands that something remarkable must have led the disciples to preach the message of the gospel, the risen Christ, the Resurrection, and the suffering in the flesh for exoneration of sins and salvation. What I find remarkable is that Lee Strobel is able to examine the major issues in the debate between believers and non-believers by understanding the critical points. Of course, I personally don’t accept the Resurrection or the “empty tomb” as evidence of the Christ. However, there are millions of believers that do, and many of the Christian scholars, certainly not liars and frauds, also accept these alleged events as factual and historical. I could go through a myriad of points that Strobel has examined as evidence for the reality of the Christ, but I’ll only mention a few. Certainly, he has built a strong argument that Jesus was real and historical, even if it is not believable that Jesus was truly a “Christ”. Certainly He was understood to be Messiah by a great enough portion of His peers to keep the Christian message alive. At no point is Strobel attempting to be a “liar” or a “fraud”. He’s merely expressing, in an intelligent manner, evidence that makes one consider why the disciples kept pursuing their belief in Him as a Messiah even after His humiliating demise. Strobel’s points are not without precedent; his examination of the issues is new to him, but all of his arguments have been presented by Christian scholars throughout the 20th century. He has, though, done a marvelous job of pulling key points together in one writing. If atheists want to see the key arguments for the Resurrection lumped together in one place presented in a most lucid manner, The Case for Christ is the right book to reference. Wasn’t it Michael Shermer that emphasized that defenders of evolution (Darwin) tend to ignore the detailed arguments of those promulgating creationism, and as a result, more often than not, lose the argument or debate because the creationists are more heavily armed because they think their arguments through in exhaustive detail? There is a reason why Lee Strobel has had such an impact on so many people … his argument is well-presented, and as a result, is influential. The worst rebuttal an atheist can offer is to call Lee Strobel a “liar” or “fraud”, since it makes the atheist appear to be at a loss for evidence contrary to his numerous “proofs” of the Christ and the Resurrection. My command to those who would disagree with Strobel and other intelligent Christian thinkers is this: Read what they say, and read carefully. There are many skilled proponents of faith, and unless you fully understand what they are presenting, they’ll rip a hole in your arguments every time.

        • mark said,

          Funny you should keep making statements to me along the lines of ‘There are many skilled proponents of faith, and unless you fully understand what they are presenting, they’ll rip a hole in your arguments every time.’ – because that hasn’t ever happened. Instead all that happens is that the proponant of faith endlessly repeats the same long dead misconceptions as if you can simply keep closing pandora’s box everytime the lid is flung open.

          Lee Strobel was caught out – only in apologetics does that seem to change nothing.

          You laughably compare my posts to a ‘crusade’, a ‘cult’ and so on – well no Ken, I’m just a guy commenting on a thread about apologetics.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Lee Strobel defends faith against objections as an advocate of apologetics … not really. I sincerely doubt that Strobel really cares much to be counted among the school of thought where he will spend his life defending faith; he’s just a believer that presented a well-researched case. Be careful you don’t fall into the trap that many atheists do … you get so wound up in attacking the person who you label an advocate of apologetics that you forget the details of the issues. The faith defender will become polished in his arguments and presentations while the atheist becomes lax and caustic. Who’s more likely to build a well-thought out presentation, the person who’s emotionally driven, or the person who’s driven by careful examination and can quote specific lines relating to the issues? Guys like Lee Stroble are aware of the issues; he’s certainly capable of doing his homework.

        • mark said,

          IF intelligent design is verifyable as you claim, nobody so far has done so. In fact the intelligent desing movement never got as far as postulating a method to test for design, let alone a competing theory.

        • kenn pappas said,

          I never said intelligent design is verifiable … I said that there are those very practiced in verifying intelligent design. There’s a profound difference. Personally, I’m a hard-core Darwinian and believe that intelligent design is absurd. That being said, most proponents of intelligent design are extremely practiced in their various proofs of ID, e.g., gaps in the assumed cohesive and consistent path that evolution follows … in fact, it is not necessary for Darwin to prove that evolution is consistent; he only reports that he sees it in process through variant adaptations of finches to their respective environments, for instance. Darwin really didn’t say anything about ID, nor did his observations treat issues like ID or cosmic big bang. If a person wants to feel secure in assuming God designed the flower that he or she smells that makes him or her feel good, then I’m all for it. However, if this type of proof is allowable, then it could also be said that the Devil is the author of mutant plagues that kill massive populations, or maybe even God Himself, and a whole can of worms opens up … numerous unscientific, unverifiable conclusions without any testable hypothesis where the assumption fits the situation just as good as any other assumption would. ID proponents and I could agree on one thing: It’s pretty weird how there’s so many stars and heavenly bodies that seem to influence each other in a seemingly orderly fashion; however, I’d rather keep looking for reasons why rather than just assume God made it that way and just leave it at that. However, at some point, the search requires the head to hurt when looking for more mathematical and scientific evidence, and the ID proponent, in order to keep his head from hurting, drops off and lets scientific methodology fall by the wayside. Where the ID proponent wins arguments, though, is when he possesses some scientific knowledge of formulas such as Maxwell’s principles, Avogadro’s number, Einstein’s theory of relativity, etc., and uses language in such as way as to confound issues by stating that there must be a reason why these principles hold true throughout the known universe, and that by assumption, there must have been a Creator that put them in place. ID proponents are crafty, and not without knowledge when they’re good, and the example I posted previously, The Philosophical Scientists by Foster, is an excellent of intelligent design at it’s best. However, I read this book carefully three times and can pinpoint every fallacy in the writing, though I warn those that think they can easily refute ID, it ain’t easy.

        • Galloway said,

          ” Emphatically, Lee Strobel is not a liar, a cheat, or “misinformed” … . He is a believer that examines issues with a particular premise or premises that may be flawed (argumentum ad vericundium, for instance),”

          Having watched Strobel rather than wasting my time reading his books, I came away with a nagging impression that a significant motivation for this charade is to please or to conform to his wife’s belief. I have known agnostics who went to their graves without conceding to the pressures of their spouses trying to get them to “believe” or at least adopt the other’s faith, and likewise I have known a spouse to capitulate to the other’s requirement to join the church.

        • kenn pappas said,

          This is the old “crystal ball” argument … it’s easier to skip the hard work, such as reading what someone wrote and researched, and coming to a “gut feeling” conclusion based on an inimical predisposition. As Rocky said to Bullwinkle, “that old trick never works.”

        • Galloway said,

          “This is the old « crystal ball » argument … it’s easier to skip the hard work, such as reading what someone wrote and researched,”

          Hardly. If the argument being made is that having not read 300 pages of Strobel’s house made of cards in favor of his equally unconvincing video documentary which is identically construed from the voice of the same academics who tried to make the case and failed, my educated sense that the book would equally be a waste of time is valid. Especially if I have reserved the “hard work” (*wink* *wink*) of reading such an “erudite scholar” as Strobel for other, more beneficial literature.

          In other words, I don’t think I need to waste my time when I get enough info from the video documentary to form an opinion that I doubt very much would change had I spent much more time reading the book version.

        • kenn pappas said,

          How do you know the book’s the same as the video if you never read it? Why, that’d be like assuming that the story of the empty tomb is the same in Mark as it is in Matthew because they are superficially the same. No, the video’s not the same at all … did you ever see the movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and then read the book, or vice versa … not the same story. One story’s told in the first-person perspective of the Chief (the book), and the other version (the movie) a story without a narrator. Both stories are not the same. Some conclusions are similar, but not the same in detail at all. As a result, different conclusions can be drawn about the significance of each character and why each behaves as he or she does. When confronting those that present a Christian argument in written form or in video form, there are quite a few difference … . If you’d like, I could point out a myriad of differences, and why each presentation cannot possibly be the same. My key point is, though, that it is far easier to jump to the conclusion that an author or presenter is a “liar”, “fraud”, an “idiot”, or other opprobrious appellations (you get the point) than to circumspectly examine his points precisely because the more he practices making them, the better he gets at making them, the more influential he becomes, and the more dangerous to those that hold contrary views he grows.

  52. mark said,

    I have to say Ken that your responses demonstrate the greatest failure of Christian apologetics – frauds like Kent Hovind and Strobel are exposed as such over and over again, and yet Christian apologists still defend them and accuse any who point out the facts of being ‘too emotional’, or ‘attacking the man and not the claim’ and of course as you have just done, infer a lack of critical thinking skills. The problem Ken is that Hovind IS a fraud – he spent his career claiming to be a Doctor – he is not a doctor. Hovind claimed to have been a high school science teacher for 15 years – he was not. As another example you could look at the intelligent design fraud – a political fraud that was thoroughly exposed as such during the Kitzmiller Dover trial, and worse with the leaking of their manifesto – the Wedge Doctrine.
    Same goes for Strobel – his lies were exposed, get over it Ken. This is not a game in which everything resets at the beginning of every new exchange.

    • kenn pappas said,

      Mark, pay strict attention to what someone says, not what you want to ascribe to what they say. You call Strobel a fraud, yet all have indicated is how Kent Hovind is the fraud; the only examples you provide relate to Hovind. Apparently you are writing from anger, not from critical thinking. In fact, I’m not a Christian apologist … I’m Jewish. However, I will defend excellence in presentation, and am always wary of those who write with a lurid detestation of people that merely seek to justify their faith. I’m not sure if there is a God, nor does it matter. I’m Jewish more for cultural reasons rather than for a religious belief or commitment. Yet I find that since people, all people, are prone to fallacious thinking in some form or another, it is better to attempt to understand why they think and believe the way they do rather than to pre-dispose myself to a hateful or malicious presupposition. Perhaps Hovind claimed to have been a high school science teacher … what do I care … I never referred to Hovind in my posting. I was merely discussing Lee Strobel’s book. Your reply is indicative of atheists that fail to do their homework or even evaluate why they think the way they do. You began with presuppositions, and replied without carefully examining what I said. What do I care about the Kizmiller Dover trial, and for that matter, what does Lee Strobel care? You’ve apparently formulated a crusade, which is tantamount to ascribing to a cult; both are committed to grouping all persons that are different into the same category even when there is little to no similarity. Please, take a class in logic, and then enter debate in a more rational manner.

      • mark said,

        “Mark, pay strict attention to what someone says, not what you want to ascribe to what they say. You call Strobel a fraud, yet all have indicated is how Kent Hovind is the fraud; the only examples you provide relate to Hovind” – Actually Ken, that is advice you should take onboard yourself. Read more carefully Ken – the instances where Strobel has been caught out in fraud have been referred to over and over in this thread and I have given several examples myself.

    • Galloway said,

      “and yet Christian apologists still defend them and accuse any who point out the facts of being ‘too emotional’, or ‘attacking the man and not the claim’”

      The claim has been debunked so thoroughly there is nothing left to attack except the man. Why go over the same step-by-step process over and over again if the apologetics aren’t listening? That’s basically the sense I get with the religionists whether we are debating the case for the existence of Jesus, or evolution. If you need something to be true, you will reject the null hypothesis in advance of testing.

      • kenn pappas said,

        Here’s my point. We both spend quite a bit of time writing and thinking about what Christian believers say. They practice their presentations and convictions, and become good at putting together cogent sentences and memorizing what they consider to be evidence-based arguments. If we do not continually practice our own thinking and learn how, why and in what way they think, then if there is a threat to concepts such as Darwinian evolution, expanding galaxies, space-time relativism, an epoch that predates dinosaurs somewhere before 6,500 BC., then we have to keep thinking, reading, and practicing the details of our arguments.

        Strobel, and many of his interviewees, are well-practiced in their craft; they are not dummies. Many are excellent researchers, and can create exceptional presentations. If those of us who demand greater and more thorough evidence to draw conclusions and define facts do not want to see religious premises supplant scientific methodology, we must continually learn how to define and determine precisely where the fallacies are in the thinking of those that support concepts like Resurrection (coming back from the dead), Ascension (going up into Heaven), and the likes of these concepts.

  53. mark said,

    Lasltly Ken, if you do not see how the Wedge strategy’s leaking to the press and the results of the Kitzmiller Dover trial have an impact on Strobel’s claims in regard to intelligent design – then it is evidently you who has not done your homework. The founders of the ID movement themselves admitted that it was not science – and that ID must not be taught in schools – because there is no theory to teach.

    • kenn pappas said,

      There’s absolutely no truth to your comment that intelligent design is without theoretical justification. One of the best arguments is a book called The Philosophical Scientists (Foster), and it is a carefully disguised specious argument for intelligent design. If you are not thoroughly trained in pinpointing logical fallacy, you will be unable to determine why this argument does not work. It is a well-crafted argument that’s established as a theoretical justification for intelligent design. This book is one of many that presents ID as mathematically verifiable. The premises break down as fallacious, but … read the book and try your best to determine why. ID theorists can be crafty little devils, and often are are well-armed with scientific knowledge and can argue strongly for creationism. You’d be best not to merely conclude that “they” admit that there is no theoretical evidence for creationism. On the contrary, many creationists are gifted in science, and would contend that creationism is scientifically provable.

      • mark said,

        I have a better grasp of these matters thsan you give me credit for , but you are to busy addressing my composition and seem to ignore the content. There is absolutely rock solid evidence to expose the intelligent design movement as a fraud, it was exposed. I can elucidate further on the matter if you wish, but it is easily established. As for the empty tomb – well that is evidence that Jesus tomb was empty – and that is all. To install a supernatural explanation for evidence that simply demonstrates a tomb without a body in it is frankly dishonest and nbothing more.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Please, elucidate. I would like to see your refutation of ID. I am not an advocate of ID, but I’ll bet that it’s more difficult for you to elucidate than you believe. Try refuting ID without displaying an emotional tone; treat it as an unverifiable theory, but demonstrate why. If you read the book, The Philosophical Scientists, for instance, you’ll see that many of the arguments for Intelligent Design are present, and they’re well-crafted ones (you don’t have to use this book, of course).

          If you’d like, I can elucidate some of the best ID arguments, and they’re very tricky … but you said you could, and I’d love to see them, because I’m of the opinion that most people who say they don’t agree with ID really don’t know how to refute ID.

          Believe me, I want to be wrong.

        • mark said,

          “Please, elucidate. I would like to see your refutation of ID. I am not an advocate of ID, but I’ll bet that it’s more difficult for you to elucidate than you believe. Try refuting ID without displaying an emotional tone; treat it as an unverifiable theory, but demonstrate why. If you read the book, The Philosophical Scientists, for instance, you’ll see that many of the arguments for Intelligent Design are present, and they’re well-crafted ones (you don’t have to use this book, of course).

          If you’d like, I can elucidate some of the best ID arguments, and they’re very tricky … but you said you could, and I’d love to see them, because I’m of the opinion that most people who say they don’t agree with ID really don’t know how to refute ID.

          Believe me, I want to be wrong.”

          Ok Ken, well I am already repeating myself – but the most basic failure of ID is that it does not exist as a scientific theory. ID collapsed after the Kitzmiller Dover trial – during which it’s proponants admitted that it was not science and that there is no theory to teach. So you are asking me to refute a scientific theory that does not even exist. The leaking of the wedge doctrine also exposed the ID movement as a blunt political fraud from the outset.

          ID proponants have yet to propose a method for testing for design – a principle upon which the entire argument is founded.

          So let me recap my response in a nutshell;

          1. There is no theory of ID to refute, it collapsed before it even got as far as a testable hypothesis, let alone a theory.
          2. So far no examples of irreducible complexity have ever been validated, not a single one.
          3. Scientists know that no such intelligent agent is necessary, so inserting a deity into the equation becomes nothing more than an extra and unnecessary level of complexity – it is redundant.

        • mark said,

          “…though I warn those that think they can easily refute ID, it ain’t easy.”

          Not at all Ken, there is no ID theory, there is not even a testable hypothesis – there is also no evidence in favour of ID. Refuting ID is childs play – there is no theory to refute, no test that need be challenged and no evidence that need be considered.

          Refuting a scientific theory that does not exist, and that is not supported by a shred of evidence or even a testable hypothesis is not as big a challenge as you appear to believe.

        • kenn pappas said,

          You’re the one who said you could “elucidate,” yet you can’t. Go on, give it your best shot … try to define Intelligent Design … I’m guessing you can’t. In a debate, Mark, an Intelligent Design proponent would rip you apart. Again, I’m not an Intelligent Design proponent. You made the claim you could “elucidate”, not me.

        • mark said,

          Micrographic letters haven’t been found on any of artifacts strobel refers to, it was a fraud. And as far as being ripped apart by an Id proponent is concerned, they have nothing to rip me apart with.

    • kenn pappas said,

      At no point is Lee Strobel fraudulent. Certainly, he errs, but he is not fraudulent. For instance, he assumes that 1 Corinthians 15, the paradosis, or early tradition passed on by the disciples to Paul through James, Peter and John, or the Circumcision Party, is perhaps the earliest tradition that is recorded in the New Testament. While most scholars would agree, whether Christian or non-Christian, it cannot be assumed that because the tradition is early, therefore it is more historical and can be used as evidence to state that Jesus is truly the Christ. There is no fraud in statements or assumptions like this. This type of reasoning is only inaccurate because it assumes that if you can get closer to the event in dispute (“the empty tomb”), you can somehow grasp the rationale for transition from dead flesh to living spirit. i.e., the closer to the event, the greater evidence for truth that a transformation occurred, especially if the disciples were impassioned to believe enough to pass on a tradition and die for their belief. Fallacious reasoning … yes. Fraud … certainly not.

      It’s not that I don’t read carefully … that would be another example of hasty generalization, e.g., because I disagree with you, therefore I don’t carefully examine issues. I’m more concerned that you, Mark, are not really aware of the key points that make the argument for the Resurrection and “empty tomb” a viable argument for believers, one that continues to grow in strength. If you’re truly concerned about promulgators of ID, creation, the “empty tomb” argument, and other presentations that `justify God’, you have to get a solid grasp of the issues. Lee Strobel, whether you agree with him or not (and I do not), has a solid grasp of the issues, and in debate, will probably outwit most of his challengers if he chose to debate with them, primarily because he’s no dummy. Personally, whether I agree with him or not, I don’t have a problem with his conversion to his faith, because he seems to be a pleasant and knowledgeable guy. But if you feel threatened by him, as though he’s part of a kool-aid manufacturing group out to convert unsuspecting people to a mad trip on a comet, then you’d better get to know the arguments that Christians use, and read what they write rather than draw conclusions without doing your homework.

      • mark said,

        In all of your responses to me Ken you assume me to be a hateful anti-theist – but that is simply not the case. It appears that you simply will not even consider any criticism of Strobel. I am not an anti-theist, I do not hate god or religions. I have no hatred or anger towards you or any other person. I relish the fact that the skylines of my cities are graced with temples, churches and mosques. The great religions of Judaeism, Christianity and Islam in particular have formed the society of which I am a product – they are a part of me and of my history. I do not wish to destroy them – instead I would see them flourish. Why I object to Strobel is because I see his brand of deceptive apologetics as entirely destructive.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Do you not understand that words like “deceptive”, “charlatan”, “liar”, “cheat”, are not welcoming criticism where the person that opposes your way of thinking is more convinced of your point of view? Most Chicago and suburban residents have encountered Lee Strobel’s writing at some time or other. He’s certainly not a dummy. He’s a professional journalist.

          Language betrays the way we think. We probably agree on many of the critical aspects regarding Lee Strobel’s thinking.

          Strobel errs, for instance, by interviewing only Christian scholars and following their “proofs” for the Resurrection.

          Additionally, he assumes that because of strong evidence for early dating of the tradition reported in 1 Corinthians 15, that eye witnesses must have seen the resurrected Christ in some otherworldly or restored existence prior to his Ascension.

          Strobel also assumes that the brutality of the crucifixion is evidence that Jesus could not have survived in a fleshly form, and since the disciples could not have been deceived, therefore, the contrary argument that a Resurrection did indeed take place must be true.

          Strobel draws his assumptions from asking what he calls the “hard questions” of his interviewees. However, his interviewees suffer from having all the answers and none of the questions. I don’t think that Strobel is deceiving anyone. He’s truly convinced that there is only one conclusion to draw … that Jesus was resurrected, since from the moment of the empty tomb to the reports of the disciples of an otherworldly resurrection, i.e., something other than the same state Jesus was in after the severe beatings and the crucifixion, the disciples saw something that changed their lives enough that they preached to the multitudes and were willing to die for their beliefs.

          This is, unfortunately, the old argument that if none of the evidence disproves the hypothesis, i.e., people can back from the dead, then it must be true, that people do come back from the dead.

          A scientist would say, “precisely how did a person who died come back? How did his cellular material reconfigure? How did he start breathing again?” Most of us would admit that if someone started breathing again, then by definition, they were never really dead in the first place. The truth is that if the tomb was indeed empty, if the reports in the gospels all added up to one fact, that Jesus walked away after dying, then there is enough information missing to say that there were some led to believe he came back. Rather than to carry out the argument, all that can be said is that since there is no evidence to demonstrate that people come back from the dead, no experiment to perform or verify this type of phenomena, that logically, any explanation must be rejected until it can be shown that a person can come back from the dead.

          A believer may say, “ah, Kenn, but you haven’t opened your heart to possibilities; you’re narrow-minded; if you truly saw God’s miracle, then you would know in your heart that God can raise anyone He wants at any time from the dead … if only you, Kenn, were not so shallow and close-minded.”

          However, I would challenge … which is more difficult, to study biology, genetics, chemistry, the molecular structure of DNA, and the entire process of scientific methodology related to definition and verification of evidence-based material, or merely to draw an assumption that `if the event can’t be explained by known science, therefore, it must be god-driven and miraculous?’

          Any scientist knows that if any event or phenomena cannot be fully explained, especially if it deviates from known explanations, that further examination is needed to determine what could possibly cause a deviation from the expected results. However, the scientist does not stop looking for an explanation, throw his hands up, and scream `eureka, it’s a miracle.’ He keeps looking.

          Most physics majors quit before they get a Ph.D.; the math’s too hard, the theory too mind-boggling. How many people could build a rocket that can go to the moon or break down the structure of a gene? When something cannot be explained, especially due to lack of knowledge, most people will throw up their hands and cry `eureka, it’s a miracle,’ and embrace miraculous, god-driven explanation for any event or phenomena that they cannot fully comprehend otherwise.

          We live in a world full of people that may find the utmost happiness in nodding their heads and agreeing with each other that God is alive and working in the world by selecting good things that happen in their lives as evidence, and ignoring traumatic events as the “not-God” or certainly not evidence of God’s love … or if they accept hurricanes and war as part of God’s love, they will assume that we mere mortals can’t understand God’s complex picture of what eternal love is all about, that God’s love, though seemingly destructive, inclement, brutal and inimical, is really a kindness that our feeble minds simply cannot grasp.

          The Christian argument, as presented by the scholars that Strobel interviews, and by association and admission, is also primarily Strobel’s conviction, may not be a valid one in accordance with scientific methodology, but for those minds incapable of grasping scientific methodology, complex math and mind-boggling scientific theories, religion serves as a good anodyne cure.

  54. mark said,

    And what of Strobel’s claims in regard to micrographic letters? Are you a believer?

    • kenn pappas said,

      What’s with the micrographic letters? It’s the old hasty generalization argument … if I can nitpick on one aspect of a person’s presentation, I can dismiss the entire presentation as idiocy … which is a mere ad hominem response… .

      • DagoodS said,

        kenn pappas,

        Making sure I understand you correctly…

        Do you agree Strobel was inaccurate in his depiction regarding the extent of his research regarding “micrographic” lettering? But you disagree with our labeling such inaccuracy as “lying” because you find it pejorative?

        Or are you saying Strobel was “well-researched” (your words) when referring to “micrographic” lettering?

  55. mark said,

    Lasltly Ken – and this is VERY important. if somebody is making a presentation and a part of is is a proven fraud (micrography) – that is NOT nitpicking, that is called honesty.

    • kenn pappas said,

      Lee Strobel makes this point: there may have been two Quinariuses, and that the inscription regarding the dates provide evidence that the census based on this and other archaeological evidence.(microlettering) demonstrates that Luke may have actually been right in his reporting. I’m not sure that harping on this particular point is necessary. It is possible that there were two guys named Quinarius, that the microlettering does in fact demonstrate that events reported in Luke may be closer to factual evidence than not. However, this argument does not add one iota to confirmation of Luke as a factual historian the way we report history today. Luke merely gathers as much information as he can in order to convince us to believe; what Luke, Matthew, Mark and John all miss is scientific evidence, no reports on how cells convert from dead material to living material, no evidence on how Jesus went from a battered, crucified body to a healthy one, no physical description of what resurrected people look like (do they have purple skin). Microlettering is a term that sounds big, much like using a word like the “transfiguration”, a big important word. However, the term becomes a way to deflect, to take emphasis off the real issue, that there is no scientific explanation for resurrection, therefore (falsely assumed) the only explanation is a miraculous raising from the dead is the only possible alternative.

      I stated this in another couple postings: Lee Strobel’s presentation is done with sincerity, and as a result, he cannot be subjected to acrimonious terms such as “charlatan” or “liar”. However, his thinking can be demonstrated to be a “hasty generalization” or “false conclusion”, which will probably gain more respect from those that believe that microlettering is evidence for Luke as a fact-seeking historian rather than an evangelist that seeks primarily to convince people to become followers of the Christ.

      • mark said,

        “Lee Strobel makes this point: there may have been two Quinariuses, and that the inscription regarding the dates provide evidence that the census based on this and other archaeological evidence.(microlettering) demonstrates that Luke may have actually been right in his reporting. I’m not sure that harping on this particular point is necessary. It is possible that there were two guys named Quinarius, that the microlettering does in fact demonstrate that events reported in Luke may be closer to factual evidence than not. ”

        Ermmm…..Ken, there are no micro-graphic letters, it is a fraud. You keep accusing me (and others) of failing to do their homework – well Ken, there is no such thing as micrographic letters. Stroble invented all that stuff, that’s why we keep pointing out that he is a fraud.

        • kenn pappas said,

          No…you really do need to do your homework. You need to learn this term, “micro-lettering” … it really is a term. Have you banded together in a cult where people all agree with each other and forget how to elucidate their points? Sad. I can tell that you don’t read what I write carefully. You already had me pegged as a proponent of Intelligent Design … . Once again, I ask you … define it and tell me why you don’t accept it … but I suspect all you’ll say is that it’s beneath you. Again, I suspect that an ID proponent would rip your rejections of ID apart. The crafty ones can argue well, and there are plenty of them with upper degrees.

        • mark said,

          Since you ask me to define ID for you, here goes; it is the equation – i do not yet fully understand ___________, therefore god!

      • DagoodS said,

        kenn pappas: It is possible that there were two guys named Quinarius, that the microlettering does in fact demonstrate that events reported in Luke may be closer to factual evidence than not.

        kenn pappas: No…you really do need to do your homework. You need to learn this term, “micro-lettering” … it really is a term.

        Um…wow.

        Have you read the blog entry you are commenting on? Did you read the linked article by Dr. Carrier? Did you read the comments regarding Strobel’s claim on the subject?

        1. There is no “micro-graphic” lettering on 1st century coins.
        2. The one (1) person who claimed there was, never stated any such “micro-graphic” lettering referred to Quirinius!

        This is analogous to someone claiming the gestation period of the Asian Ten-Toed Walloping Kangaroo is only ten minutes, when there is no such thing as an Asian Ten-Toed Walloping Kangaroo, and the only person who ever claimed such, never said anything about the gestation period of the Asian Ten-Toed Walloping Kangaroo.

        kenn pappas, before you accuse others of not doing their homework, you should examine your own method…like bothering to read the very blog entry you are commenting on!

        If you cannot understand the basic falsehood inherent in Strobel’s writing (and talking) regarding “micro-graphic” lettering, you will never understand why we call him a liar for doing so.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Buddy, read more articles. Yes there are 1st century micro-lettering artifacts. What you’re stating just isn’t true. One reference does not an argument make … .

        • mark said,

          Ken, you need to check your facts – not one single example of micrographic lettring on ANY 1st century coin has ever been demonstrated. You have fallen for a hoax – there is no micrographic lettering on ANY of the artifacts Strobel claimed.

        • DagoodS said,

          kenn pappas,

          Yet…”buddy”…I notice you fail to give a single cite for micro-lettering on 1st century coins. Any reference to micro-lettering links back to one person—Vardaman.

          Your effort providing a reply without any substance to support your claim is duly noted.

  56. vegasjessie said,

    Lee Strobel was a featured guest at megaChurch Canton Ridge in Las Vegas in March. I’m learning more and more things about this place that are unpalatable. His appearance there solidifies my suspicions. Thanks for this article. The micro letters sound a lot like Joseph Smith’s magic seer stone. What people believe astonishes me!

    • Galloway said,

      “Lee Strobel was a featured guest at megaChurch Canton Ridge in Las Vegas in March. I’m learning more and more things about this place that are unpalatable. His appearance there solidifies my suspicions.”

      Yes, that he is basically a thinly disguised evangelist.

      • kenn pappas said,

        … and you just figured out that Lee Strobel is an evangelist. Look him up online … he’s a minister.

        • mark said,

          Erm…..Ken, Strobel claimed to be a journalist examining evolution from an unbiased perspective – that he is (as you admit) an evangelist is another example of his dishonesty. Have you realized that there are no micro-graphic letters on any of the artifacts he claimed had them yet?

        • kenn pappas said,

          Mark, you get hung up on the wrong issues.

          Here, let me give you some good ammo. Here’s why the birth story in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke doesn’t work and cannot be historically verified, for instance.

          Paul wrote the Letter to the Galatians before the Gospels. He met with the heads of the Jerusalem Church, James (literal brother of Jesus), Peter and John, and gets in a conflict with their unwillingness to let go of their adherence to Jewish law and convention, e.g., washing hands, circumcision. Paul disputes with Peter when Peter won’t sit with the visiting Gentile Christians, and says he “got up in his face” to chastise him for behaving improperly.

          There is every indication the Jerusalem Church (James and the original disciples and their followers) won’t let go of the Jewish conventions. In the Letter to the Galatians, Paul warns his new church to beware of those telling them they must adhere to the old Jewish conventions, the legal ways, e.g., washing hands, circumcision, that these guys (James, Peter, John & company) are misleading them.

          Paul, throughout all of his letters, is completely unaware of a Nativity story, i.e., the baby in the manger, the virgin birth, and the miracle birth of both Jesus and John the Baptist as reported in the Gospel of Luke.

          In Strobel’s video, he harps on the historicity of Luke. He admits in his book, though, as do most scholars, that Mark was probably written before Luke, and certainly after the Paul’s letters, particularly the Letter to the Galatians.

          There is little doubt that Mark is aware of Paul’s teachings that the only necessary rules for becoming a Christian are to believe in Jesus Christ as the one God, to believe that He died and suffered in the flesh, and that He was resurrected (1 Corinthians 15); Mark is also aware that Paul warns that the early Jerusalem Church (James, Peter, John), is on the wrong track by requiring adherence to the Jewish law (washing hands, circumcision) and fears that this will limit salvation and distort the true meaning of what God, through Jesus Christ, requires for salvation.

          How do I know this? Paul tells us this in the second half of the Letter to the Galatians.

          Both Paul and Mark are unaware of a virgin birth story, of a nativity story. How do I know this? Paul never mentions either in his letters, nor does Mark in his gospel, and Mark follows Paul closely in terms of doctrine in his gospel.

          Logically, the virgin birth and nativity stories come later, probably stories that arose as the Church wanted to know more about Jesus, since by the time Mark writes his gospel, there’s very little fact to remember.

          Lee Strobel claims that Luke is a reliable historian. Of course he’s not. He’s writing primarily to fortify belief in Jesus Christ and salvation based on the empty tomb and the resurrection.

          What Lee Strobel does not comprehend is that factual history is not important to the gospel writers; the impact of stories and their ability to proclaim Jesus Christ as a miraculous birth, life (healings and miracles) and death in the form of resurrection are what Mark, Matthew, Luke and John present.

          Lee Strobel does not lie, though. He merely represents what Christians believe. In the early Church, history was not understood as factual evidence, but as proclamation of the risen Jesus is the Christ who died for our sins in the flesh and for our salvation.

          History, as we understand history today, is the discovery of artifacts and documentation in order to represent factual evidence for the existence and beliefs of personage and the development of cultures and societies.

          However, history does not claim to supply evidence for people who get out of graves, ride on spaceships, turn into ghosts, or come from other worlds and dimensions to interact with our world.

          Lee Strobel’s only error is that he fails to understand what evidence-based thinking, and draws conclusions based on a powerful personal feeling about what salvation means to him personally through Jesus Christ.

          In fact, this is the critical issue in a nutshell. Those people that personally attach to events in history as though the events are beyond scientific explanation or examination, e.g., resurrection from the dead, ghosts come back from the dead, are those that want a quick-fix answer to events that demand a higher level of critical thinking and a thorough understanding of logic and its applications.

          When people become frustrated due to their inability to comprehend logical thinking, they seek a simpler answer, one that seems to fit everything they want to believe based on their feelings. In other words, if I feel powerfully about a force interacting with my life to the extent that I feel better or more vibrant or more in control, then I can assume that it’s God who’s causing this feeling. If I get on the God train, then I’ll be riding the right pathway and good things will happen for me.

          I have only defended this one point: If people want to ride the God train, then they are not deceiving anyone as a “charlatan”, “liar”, or any other term ascribed to their alleged motivations. They are merely pursuing what they believe to be true based on their limited ability to grasp concepts based on evidence-based thinking and logic as it has evolved through the greatest minds (Darwin, Einstein, and a host of others).

          Lee Strobel is not a liar or a charlatan. He truly and passionately believes in what he says. However, it isn’t necessary to harp on whether the micrographic lettering on the Qunarius coin is true or spurious.

          The mere idea of Luke as a seeker of factual evidence in the same manner as a modern historian in graduate school seeks factual evidence through documentation and archaeological discovery is absurd. Luke is by no means using evidence-based approach.

          Keep in mind, Lee Strobel is speaking to people that want to believe. My key point about Lee Strobel presents about the best possible argument for the fact-based resurrection of Christ as evidenced through the gospels.

          It is up to us skeptics to do our homework, primarily because Lee Strobel knows how to write and record information in a palatable manner for those who want to become or are already believers.

          I still maintain that most atheists are completely unprepared to do battle with the likes of Strobel, Habermas, and other believers who pose as skeptics, because they are crafty.

          I suggest the book, The Philosophical Scientists by Foster, as one of the best representations ever written for a step-by-step procedural justification of Creationism.

          Again, just as I’ve stated with Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ, I do not believe he proved the case, nor do I believe that Foster does. However, I challenge the atheists and skeptics that claim they too do not accept these type of presentations to become knowledgeable and precise, very precise, in their refutations of these type of presentations, or we’ll all be swept under the rug like small specs of dust.

          I still have a problem with the concept of “atheism” when it is tantamount to a lack of respect for believers. I’m one of those people who will run out of his way to open a door for a priest or nun; perhaps it’s my upbringing … who knows?

        • mark said,

          I love how you say that ‘it isn’t necessary to harp on whether the micrographic lettering on the Qunarius coin is true or spurious.’

          You really are a terrible apologist Ken, what you are saying is that it doesn’t matter whether Strobel is lying or not – and you are doing so in a post in which you assert that he is not a liar.

          Your dishonesty is as shameless as it is transparent Ken.

          There is no micro-graphic lettering on ANY of the artifacts Strobel claimed had micro-graphic lettering on them. If you think that is irrelevant than you are a fool.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Mark, I don’t know why I waste my time talking to you. You don’t read. You watch videos and draw hasty conclusions. You haven’t studied logic. You probably lack education, but boast of being educated. You have no regard for critical thinking and make quick decisions. In truth, you haven’t comprehended a single thing I said. I used this site to explore how people … atheists … think … not much, if you’re indicative. You give a bad name to skeptics. Go to school and learn to read before you criticize. You must learn how to tackle the ideas presented by your opposition … and learn how to write complete sentences without grammatical errors. Here’s a question … have you actually read five books in your entire life? I know you can watch videos. Read, Mark, and think, learn to think.

        • Galloway said,

          “… and you just figured out that Lee Strobel is an evangelist. Look him up online … he’s a minister.”

          “Just” figured out? *SNORT* Ha, right. Show me where I said “Just” figured out. It’s obvious right from the start!

        • DagoodS said,

          kenn pappas,

          For thinking it not necessary to harp on whether “the micrographic lettering on the Qunarius [sic] coin is true or spurious” it is most amusing you respond with a comment four (4) times longer than the Gettysburg Address to avoid directly responding to our questions regarding micro-graphic lettering!

          Let’s try the direct approach. Again.

          1) Are you claiming there is micro-graphic lettering on 1st Century coins?
          2) What “Quirinius coin?” (I assume you are cognizant regarding why we are talking about a “Quirinius” coin and not a qunarius coin in this discussion.)

        • kenn pappas said,

          The level of intelligence on this site is disturbing. Nobody seems to have a strong foundation in historical theology, and no one seems to read the actual prerequisite material that formulates the basis for discussion.

          Please, someone prove me wrong. Really, I’m asking this sincerely. I welcome debate, but demonstrate some knowledge of the subject rather than harp on trivial details that sidestep the real issue.

          Here’s the real issue, and my key claim is this: If anyone wants to combat believers, then he’d better be well-versed in the gospels and the letters of Paul, and possess a strong familiarity of the old testament and other apocryphal writings as well as some of the writings of guys like St. Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and others. Why? Because those other guys, the believers, do have a strong basis in these writings, and they use them like swords and grenades, while those who don’t ground themselves in the battle are bringing toothpicks to defend themselves. It’s not enough to watch a Lee Strobel video and dispute about micrographic lettering. This is a pebble in the entire argument.

          I have stated that there is the possibility that micrographic lettering may be a possible indicator as to whether or not a second Quinirius can be confirmed in the Gospel of Luke, where the census could have been more factual than supposed … but I only say this because it’s such a trivial issue; this point does not justify the claim that the Gospel of Luke is a historical document in the sense that factual reporting is what Luke is all about … a molehill does not a mountain make … .

          It If anyone read Lee Strobel’s book rather than watched the video, then he would understand that Strobel is well-grounded in the major issues pertaining to discussion between believers and non-believers. However, I keep proposing challenges, and no one can supply detail, only objections based on emotive reaction, visceral reaction rather that logical presentation. If anyone reads carefully, and I stated this quite clearly in a couple of my previous posts, the issue of micrographic lettering is such a peripheral issue.

          Here, I’ll reprint the portion of my previous posting … read it, please.

          “Lee Strobel is not a liar or a charlatan. He truly and passionately believes in what he says. However, it isn’t necessary to harp on whether the micrographic lettering on the Qunarius coin is true or spurious.

          The mere idea of Luke as a seeker of factual evidence in the same manner as a modern historian in graduate school seeks factual evidence through documentation and archaeological discovery is absurd. Luke is by no means using evidence-based approach.

          Keep in mind, Lee Strobel is speaking to people that want to believe. My key point about Lee Strobel presents about the best possible argument for the fact-based resurrection of Christ as evidenced through the gospels.”

          If you’d like to see the full posting, I can send it to you.

        • mark said,

          Your fatuous evasion and insults are no substitute for evidence or a rational argument ken. Rather than all of your insulting commentary about what you pretend my level of education may be, the fact remains that strobel lied about the existence of micro graphic lettering on first century artifacts – no such lettering has ever been found.
          Strobel lied, micro graphic lettering is a fraud.

          As to your petty insults, well Ken I have a major in history and two degrees – I also have known my facts and supported my position far better than you have.

          Before you post next, you should edit from your response all of the childish insults, evasion and accusations along with your utterly tedious and irrelevant statements about the gospels. Sadly, having done so not a word will remain of your comment.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Excellent. I possess a triple Bachelor’s in English Literature, Logic and Philosophy, and Education, and a double Master’s in English Literature with a concentration in writing, and in Logic and Philosophy.

          Once again, I challenge you to demonstrate knowledge of history as it relates to 1st to 5th century, which is primarily Christian thought in Western society.

          I hastily commented toward Andrew when addressing an issue he raised; I’ve grown so fond of responding to your “liar”, “charlatan” and other remarks that I inadvertently responded to him as though he though like you did.

          C’mon, Mark, give me some evidence of your knowledge rather than your visceral comments. Did you ever read Albert Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus? You have to have read this book if you’re a history major. It’s necessary reading if you’re even going to discuss Biblical issues.

        • mark said,

          You posted to me Ken; ‘C’mon Mark, give me some evidence of your knowledge rather than your visceral comments. Did you ever read Albert Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus? You have to have read this book if you’re a history major. It’s necessary reading if you’re even going to discuss Biblical issues.’

          Ken I am an atheist, I believe that Jesus existed – and I have no particular interest in Christian theology from the 1st century. My historical specialty is elsewhere.

          My qualifications are in fundamentalist extremism and counter terrorism, why you imagine I would have any interest in petty controversies over irrelevant biblical claims I have no idea.

          The facts are that there are no micro-graphic letters on the coins, Strobel lied – ergo he is a liar.

          I would rather count the blades of grass on my lawn than waste hours of my life bored to death reading Albert Sweitzer – whether a man called Jesus existed I could care less.

          What apologists need to establish is not whether a man called Jesus lived, it is evidence or even a logical argument for the existence of the Christian god – neither of which have ever been acheived.

          All apologists have in their arsenal are lies (as in the case of Strobel, Hovind, Comfort, Craig) and silly ‘logical’ conjouring tricks. So far no evidence for god, and no logical argument for such a being has ever been uncovered. All you appear capable of doing Ken is changing the subject and flinging insults.

        • kenn pappas said,

          if you want to argue semantics, the word “micrographic” is a digital image term. Strobel has extended it to mean “small lettering”, which is found on coins, of which there are plenty of examples on the net if you Google them.

          In terms of what people believe, which is the basis for terrorism, it’s probably advantageous to read the Koran; in terms of how some recent politicians think, it’s probably advantageous to read the Book of Mormon. However, it’s not necessary if you don’t really want to involve yourself in discussions related to this field. I realize that the Koran and the Book of Mormon are unpalatable and not especially exciting reading, but a strong familiarization is necessary.

          The same goes for Christianity. If you don’t want to understand how and why individuals are compelled to think and believe the way they do, then you need not concern yourself with the landmark books that are germane to the subject. If you do, you must arm yourself, or you become prey to those that hold the weapons and the armor.

        • mark said,

          Yes Ken, the micro-graphic letters on coins you saw on the internet were fake. For a guy who keeps telling others to do their research – you clearly do none of your own.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Well, just to be sure, I checked several sites. See how you jump to conclusions? How do you know which site(s) I was looking at. Your convictions are similar to how people vote. They become confirmed Democrats or Republicans, and then begin with the premise that everything the other guy says must be wrong.

          I’ll give you a chance to do your own research first, and then I’ll send you a link where you can see what small lettering on coins is according to how Strobel understands the usage of the word “micrographing.”

          Don’t be lazy … Google “Roman coins” and a few other key words (I’ll leave the brainstorming up to you), and you’ll find some more examples. However, don’t just assume that because you believe that Strobel is wrong, he must be a “liar” … . This is an illogical assumption. Here: I’ll give you a hint why … argumentum ad hominum … .

        • mark said,

          Ken, you comment that you have no reason to doubt that the coins in question are real – and yet not a single one of those coins claimed to have micro-graphic lettering has ever even been presented for validation. Even Strobel himself states that he doubts the validity of the claims regarding micro-graphy, but uses them as evidence anyway. As I said Ken, for all your mockery about how no-one does their research, you have not even read the page you are posting comments on.

        • kenn pappas said,

          My God, Mark, if you would only read Strobel’s book. Yes he does claim to have evidence of the coins. Read the goddamn book.

          k

        • mark said,

          Yet again you ignore the point – Strobel does claim to have the micrographic evidence, but none of it has ever been presented to science for validation. So this is a situation where claims of an extraordinary nature are made by Strobel based upon evidence that simply does not exist, which in common parlance is called a lie.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Please read my posting carefully that precedes this one. Strobel doesn’t “lie” … he’s just not as knowledgeable as he believes himself to be. His intention is not to lie, he just lacks knowledge.

          If he was firmly grounded in logical thinking, he would see that he is in error. However, he is a believer, and as a result, selects faith-based thinking over logic as understood by scientists when they practice evidence-based critical thinking, e.g., examining a body of information, formulating a hypothesis, setting up variables to be tested, and recording results for analysis, and finally, repeating the process several times to determine whether or not the experiment can be repeated with similar results.

          Faith-based materials cannot be scientifically verified because they are faith-based. Strobel is not a bad guy, a “charlatan”, a “liar”… many people are faith-based. They choose not to be scientists or pursue evidence-based thinking. Many people select a religious pursuit because it answers questions that science can’t, e.g., where am I going after I die, why do I have to die, how can I come back again, is there any sense of absolute justice, fairness, sense to the universe? Can anyone blame people for coming up with absurd answers grounded in faith? Paul the Apostle offered people an alternative to crucifixion by madmen like Pilate and Nero.

          Strobel speaks to believers. He, like many staunch, persuasive believers, offer answers to people that need answers to confront a world that seems vast and vague and hopeless without faith in a loving, caring God.

          People that need more than what the cowardly lion does (“I do believe in ghosts”) pursue logical thinking. People that don’t find reason to pursue logical thinking because it does not offer what Christianity can, faith, hope, love as represented by Paul, can be convinced of anything that seems to verify what they want to believe.

          Whether the Quirinius coins are real or not makes no difference. Luke is not a factual writer in the sense that fact can be verified. He writes for those that want to believe. If believers want to believe that there were two Quiriniuses, they will believe regardless of microlettering on coins. This is only one of a myriad of presentations.

        • Galloway said,

          “Here’s the real issue, and my key claim is this: If anyone wants to combat believers, then he’d better be well-versed in the gospels and the letters of Paul, and possess a strong familiarity of the old testament and other apocryphal writings as well as some of the writings of guys like St. Clement, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and others.”

          It’s been a while since I watched (not read) Strobel. I’m sure you’re wrong on this point. I don’t think it’s important to go into the excruciating minutiae of Strobel’s body of evidence at this time, since even a few weak links break the entire chain. Especially the use of historical corollaries of the time that seem to mention Jesus by name. Without that, all you have are stories that mention historical data points. So what?

          http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/1stC_Hist.htm

          As for the belief that reading Strobel,will somehow shed some profound revelation not present in his video documentary, not bloody likely. If that was the case, Strobel would have included such important features in his documentary, So, to say we don’t really know Strobel without reading Strobel is not a valid complaint. To watch Strobel is quite enough to form an educated opinion of the basis of his thesis.

          Really, based on the contradictions of his more primary claims, the “micrographic lettering” issue is a big yawn.

        • kenn pappas said,

          I can always tell when someone falls short of a graduate degree. In grad school, a student learns to read, research, and evidence his points, rather than to assume from a “snippet” that he somehow possesses divine knowledge of an issue.

          Nobody reads what I write. Each person merely grabs the first point he believes will substantiate his already foregone conclusion.

          I don’t agree with Strobel. But I doubt you could sit in a room with him and take him on point by point, primarily because you watched a five minute video (maybe it was eight minutes, maybe ten).

          You post on this site, which means that you were drawn to it because it possesses some interest. You are obviously not a believer, but a scholarly Christian holds a big sword when it comes to knowing his material; how can you begin to refute an argument when you don’t even understand the battleground? You don’t find it necessary to read or do your homework, but you certainly can express an opinion.

          Why is it important to read Strobel? If it’s not important, then why bother jumping on the site? You don’t even know what he’s talking about, since the video is similar to the cartoon before the movie … .

        • Galloway said,

          “I can always tell when someone falls short of a graduate degree.”

          *COUGH* You consider Strobel’s book peer reviewed and academic? That doesn’t speak well to your own degree.

          Listen, I don’t have to waste my time reading Strobel when I can arrive at the same conclusion by listening to him. Let me turn the tables on you, I am guessing you are struggling with this argument because you haven’t actually watched the documentary.

        • kenn pappas said,

          No, Galloway, I did watch the video, or “documentary”, and I use this term loosely. Is it actually possible to produce a peer-reviewed evidence-based approach toward proving the existence of God, the resurrection, or any type of issue like this? The peers being referred to are suspect by the very fact that they depart from scientific methodology from the onset. However, that being said, I stated in a previous post that it is necessary to read in order to “know your enemy” … of course, it’s not necessary if the issue doesn’t concern you, but it must, since you’re bothering to submit responses to people that go on this site.

          I look at the debate regarding the Christ concept and all the panoply that goes along with it as sort of a fantasy game where the premises are skewed, but the level of presentation is worth bickering about. Personally, I start from the premise that nothing is true unless there’s “proof in the Petri dish (not to be confused with Laura Petri).

        • Galloway said,

          ” Is it actually possible to produce a peer-reviewed evidence-based approach toward proving the existence of God, the resurrection, or any type of issue like this?”

          It is possible to produce a thesis based on peer reviewed academics, regardless of conclusion. The problem is, Lee Strobel is not it. It’s a lively and entertaining debate (and Strobel is at least entertaining, or I wouldn’t be here), but in the end he is of secondary importance.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Well, I would certainly agree that in terms of historical theology and research, Strobel is undoubtedly of secondary importance. He’s not really a historical researcher. His presentation, though, is a powerful one, as evidence by the amount of followers he picks up.

          I still contend that I like the guy, and could enjoy a conversation with him, though we probably wouldn’t agree on much other than that I have no problem with people that come to the conclusion that faith is necessary for their lives to function well.

          I usually depart from common ground when a person demands that I, too, recognize the importance of saving my soul, since I don’t really know what a soul is,

          However, my “admiration” for Strobel’s book, and I use this word lightly, is that he attempted to build an argument representing the faith-based examiners of the gospels. Let’s face it, with proper application of logic or evidenced=based approach, faith-based approach can never prove the case for Resurrection, what came out of the empty tomb, if anything at all, the Ascension, or any of these absurd concepts.

          Strobel does, however, make a lot of people happy that need justification for their faith on a scholarly basis, even if the so-called “scholarly” basis is not scholarly at all,

        • Galloway said,

          “I still contend that I like the guy, and could enjoy a conversation with him, though we probably wouldn’t agree on much other than that I have no problem with people that come to the conclusion that faith is necessary for their lives to function well.”

          He’s likeable enough, like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

          I still think people tend to move from believer to agnostic or atheist, and I am extremely skeptical that there is sufficient evidence to turn an atheist into the kind of Christian that believes Jesus was God, although I guess it is possible that a person can become a moral type of Christian, which is to say the kind that thinks it’s a good idea to help your fellow human being.

          The aspect of Christian Evangelism I’d like to see taken on, and I don’t know how much it has to do with Strobel is what I hear being called “the prophecies have all come true,” or something like that. I don’t know what these so-called prophecies are. My hypothesis is that they are very generalized statements, and that “They have all come true, according to the understanding of church leaders (or scholars, academics, etc.)” is really a euphemism for “According to our interpretation.”

          I would like to see an objective, non-prejudiced explanation of a sample of Biblical “prophecies” and the historical events that supposedly correspond to them, from the point of view of a thesis that tries to prove the null hypothesis, which is that there is no significant relationship between the prophecy and its interpreted event.

          Strobel set out to prove he null hypothesis (supposedly), but his tests were not rigorous. Even ostentatious, in my opinion.That’ my biggest problem with him.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Well, there’s a good point I can agree with. I think that Strobel did try to “prove” the null hypothesis (though he does seem to accept all too readily what authorities tell him rather than examine thoroughly on his own), and falls for the quagmire that most believers do … `what do I really feel in my heart’, which seems to stop logical thinking in its path.

          I’m always curious what compels people to believe in godws, angels, spirits, souls, voodoo, hoodoo and flim-flam up the ying yang. There must be a certain tediousness to continuous examination of potential flaws in thinking.

          I’m fond of saying that the only truths that can be relied on are the laws of physics, and everything else is suspect; however, I have my doubts about wormholes and alternate universes as well, fringe physics that doesn’t stand the test of finding the “proof in the Petri dish,” or mathematical proofs without repeated observation of phenomena that could verify the existence of wormholes and alternate universes.

          I like Strobel. He seems like a nice guy. I enjoyed his book because it was controversial, and it is a good map for some of the key issues that believers present as evidence for Christian concepts such as Resurrection and Ascension. He actually does look a bit like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

          In terms of verification of Luke and other gospel writers as truth-seekers in the sense that they were discovering or recording fact, there is very little (if anything) that Strobel presents that can’t be picked apart as illogical and unverifiable.

          That being said, it’s still an interesting collection of all the key arguments that believers present all wrapped up in one convenient reference book. That’s why I find it fascinating. It’s nice that someone placed all the illogical arguments in one paperback. It makes it easier for skeptics to reference the bullet points for refutation purposes.

  57. mark said,

    I can only wonder if you actually imagine that nobody notices that you keep ignoring the issue at hand and changing the subject to Luke.

    • kenn pappas said,

      If you read the book by Lee Strobel, you’d realize that the issue regarding micrographing centers around the alleged controversy over the census as discussed in the Gospel of Luke. Strobel uses the examination of the micrographing to state that there is an earlier emperor named Quinirius rather than the one that scholars have determined was the actual emperor that Luke referred to. By assumption, if the big guy named Quinirius was emperor at the time, then the census could only have taken place at a time that would not coincide with the birth year of Jesus assumed to be 1 A.D. However, by studying the micrographing on the coin of an earlier Quinirius, or so Strobel claims through his “research”, there must have been a lesser “emperor”, sort of a local ruler named Quinirius, that coincides with Luke’s report that Jesus was born in 1 A.D. You see, the alleged micrographing or inscription on the coin allegedly shows that there were two guys named Quinirius, not one, which, if you accept Strobel’s presentation, demonstrates that Luke actually was recording factual history.

      Again, if you read the book, then you’d know what he was talking about in the video.

      Now why am I discussing Luke … it’s because this is what the issue is that Strobel tries to demonstrate … that according to his “research”, Luke was demonstrating factual evidence for the census based on the micrographing on the Quinirius coin (the lesser, localized ruler named Quinirius.

      Now you get it, right?

      Read, Mark, read.

      • mark said,

        I have no interest whatsoever in your biblical analysis, I have commented only on claims Strobel has made that have been proven to be fraudulent. The minutia of the Gospels are of no interest to me at all. Strobel claimed to have found micro-graphic lettering on 1st century coins, that claim was a lie.

        The ‘controversy’ is over the fact that Strobel fraudulently claimed that micro-graphic letters exist on 1st century coins – they do not.

        There are no micro-graphic letters on the coins Strobel analysed – he was lying. Do you get it Ken? This is simple, a two year old could grasp it – THERE ARE NO MICRO GRAPHIC LETTERS ON THE COINS. Strobel was lying.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Sorry, I can see the pictures of the coins I looked up on the net, and they contain micrographic lettering. Again, I already replied to your previous posting … “micrographic” is typically understood to refer to digital imaging; of course, if that’s the definition you use, there is no micrographic lettering. However, Strobel uses the term to mean “small lettering” … and there are plenty of examples. I saw pictures on the net, and unless a few people fabricated the sites, I have no reason to doubt that the coins are real.

          It’s possible that there’s a conspiracy going on rife throughout the net regarding “micrographic” lettering, but … it can’t be as bad as the controversy about the existence or non-existence of Santa Claus (and I do believe in Santa Claus).

      • Galloway said,

        There also really was a guy named Lincoln that the fantasy Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter was based on.

        In the discussion “A Case Against Lee Strobel” some people seem to have lost sight of the forest for the trees. Strobel has been successfully repudiated many times over.

        We don’t need to examine the excruciating minutiae of micrographing. It is unnecessary at this point:

        “Again, all I can say is that if you’re using Strobel as an outreach tool, you are going to get burned. Despite his protestations to the contrary, Strobel is simply not a reporter doing “interviews.” He’s a propagandist feeding leading questions to sympathetic supporters who are going to give Strobel the predetermined, agreed-upon-in-advance answers that he’s seeking. Maybe that’s useful if you want to “fire up the faithful,” but it isn’t going to convince a skeptic.”

        If you’re still struggling with disproving Strobel, you’re behind the eight ball.

        • kenn pappas said,

          I’m in full agreement with this comment, Galloway … getting hung up on “micrographing” is such a peripheral issue. it misses the big picture … .

  58. Galloway said,

    Origen, b. 184 AD. Too late to be a primary witness.
    Josephus – Besides being born about 34 AD, “”But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper and very insolent; he was also of the sect of Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all of the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrim of judges and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book XX, chap. ix, sec. I).”

    No historian, from Origen forward is of the opinion that Josephus ever used the word “Christ”. That title was probably a later marginal note.

    So, when an antiquities historian uses the name “Jesus”, was he necessarily talking about Jesus Christ?

    In the ancient Aramaic, Ea-shoa’ M’shee-khah, or, as modern televangelists like to say, in order to make themselves sound scholarly, the Romanized “Yeshua” Archaeologists have unearthed the tombs of at least 71 Yeshuas from Jesus’ time, so any period historical reference needs more than just the name “Yeshua did this” or “Yeshua did that.”

    Since so much of Strobel’s supposed proofs derive from already refuted sources of the use of the name Yeshua, whatever he has posited beyond these invalidated data are not very consequential.

    • kenn pappas said,

      I apologize to Mark … I thought he was responding to me, when I realized it was you, Andrew.

      I withdraw my comment to Mark. It was unfair, since it was not he who had no realization that the whole issue centers on the Gospel of Luke.

      Very good. I agree with your comment that Strobel’s supposed proofs derive from already refuted sources. This is why when he claims that Habermas and others evidence numerous sources referring to “Jesus”, there’s really only a couple … Josephus being one .. and all not very informative, parenthetical at best, suggesting that Jesus just wasn’t that important of a figure to the general populace.

  59. DagoodS said,

    kenn pappas,

    Appears our conversation has reached its end. You refuse to answer straightforward questions (for reasons obvious to most lurkers) and your own research skills are demonstrated as so abysmal, it is no wonder you defend Strobel’s. As pathetic as Strobel’s research skills are, they are better than your own. A chicken pecking on a keyboard would be better than your own. (And I don’t care how many degrees you have.)

    For example:

    kenn pappas If you read the book by Lee Strobel, you’d realize that the issue regarding micrographing centers around the alleged controversy over the census as discussed in the Gospel of Luke. Strobel uses the examination of the micrographing to state that there is an earlier emperor named Quinirius rather than the one that scholars have determined was the actual emperor that Luke referred to. By assumption, if the big guy named Quinirius was emperor at the time, then the census could only have taken place at a time that would not coincide with the birth year of Jesus assumed to be 1 A.D. However, by studying the micrographing on the coin of an earlier Quinirius, or so Strobel claims through his “research”, there must have been a lesser “emperor”, sort of a local ruler named Quinirius, that coincides with Luke’s report that Jesus was born in 1 A.D.

    There is so much wrong with this paragraph it is hard to determine where to begin.

    1. There was no emperor named “Quirinius” and Strobel never claims there was. (It IS good to see you finally understand the difference between “Quirinius” and “qunarias.”)
    2. Actually Strobel would be claiming the new-found pro-counsel Quirinius would be the earlier one, not the Governor (not emperor) of Syria in 6 CE.
    3. Actually Strobel is attempting to align Matthew’s birth date of 4 BCE with Luke. Luke puts the date at 6 CE, not 1 CE.
    4. Strobel never researched micro-graphic letters, Strobel claims he doubts McRay’s claim regarding micro-graphic letters and claims he would do more research, yet clearly does not do so. Hence the lie.
    5. The ONLY person who ever claimed there were micro-graphic letters—Vardaman—never made the claim such letters ever said anything about a Quirinius—Governor, pro-counsel or your new-found emporer!
    6. Strobel could not have researched this.

    Since the non-research of Strobel turns out to be better than your own (amazingly), you will never understand why we consider this a lie.

    • kenn pappas said,

      Did you read my answer? Did you actually even see the video? Do you know what micrographing is, and have you actually read the gospel of Luke?

      Are you aware that Strobel’s entire basis for his argument centering around the micrographic stems from the gospel of Luke?

      When you attain an education, or when someone teaches you that it is important to read, not to watch videos and trust internet noise, then there will be a conversation.

      Strobel does not lie. You are hung up on this word.

      The so-called discrepancy between the spellings of Quinirius is a mere difference in representation between Greek and Latin renditions. I was originally transliterating from Greek, since I speak, read and write Greek, including a good portion of middle Greek.

      Once again, and please pay attention, read my posts, actually read them, don’t superficially glance them over. You are so hung up on the “lie” issue that you miss the forest through the trees.

      I assume that you’re an atheist on a crusade … scary.

      • DagoodS said,

        kenn pappas,

        I continue to be amused. When caught, rather than extract yourself from the misrepresentation, you double down and only provide more misinformation. As the adage goes, “Once you’ve dug yourself in a hole–stop digging!

        1. The Greek transliteration of “Quirinius” is “Cyrenius” or “Kyrenios”—it would NEVER be “Qunarius.” The Greek has no letter “Q” and there would be no reason to transpose the “r” and the “n” when transliterating. You should have left your mistake alone. By claiming to know Greek and making this horrendous mistake, you only reveal your own fraud.

        2. Yes, I am quite aware regarding the claim of “micrographic lettering” having read Vardaman’s claim regarding it. Vardaman himself describes it as writing on coins “…undetectable without the magnifying glass of ancient artisans…” It is not smaller lettering on coins. It is—by definition of the one (1) person who claims it exists–microscopic! Hence the very reason Vardaman claims everyone else missed it! If it was just small lettering, we all would have seen it long ago. (And still see it now)

        Again, you got caught being incorrect by defending Strobel’s (and McRay’s) use of micrographic lettering, and rather than admitting your mistake, attempt to either claim it meant something other than what Strobel, McRay and Vardaman meant OR claim it isn’t important because Strobel is inaccurate elsewhere.

        You would have better served admitting your mistake earlier. Unfortunately for you, Mark and I continued to point out your error regarding micro-graphic lettering, and the more you defended it, the less credible you became, eventually surpassing even Strobel when it comes to catastrophically terrible research skills.

        Oh, and listing pictures of coins is nice and all…but none of those contain the micrographic letters discussed by Strobel, McRay and Vardaman. One is tempted to suggest you follow you own advice and actually read the claim being made by Strobel.

        • kenn pappas said,

          To Mark: Then xeries ti les, re, afou then katalaveneis ta ellinika. Xero ta ellinika, ma eseis, then milas ti glossa, alithina … .

          You see, once again, I use the word “transliterate” loosely, primarily because I don’t have a keyboard with which I can type in Greek. But when writing, I “transliterate” in order to get my point across.

          Here’s your challenge, Mark, and you do seem to be challenged. You enjoy name-calling, hence, labeling any one that disagrees with your way of thinking as “charlatan”, “liar”, “fraud’ … you betray your lack of education. Of course I speak Greek, and read it, and write it, as evidenced by the sentence above. However, you completely miss the boat.

          You read an article on the net, and continue to harp on the same issues over and over. You have admitted that you watch videos and documentaries, but find it tedious to read and conduct research. Until you learn the value of educating yourself, you will always be a “name caller” relegated to the world of indulging in “argumentum ad hominem” in order to drive home your point, which lacks substance because you don’t read.

          Until you actually read the gospel of Luke, and those persons that have elevated to scholarly level on the subject, both Christian and non-Christian (yes, even atheists) scholars, you won’t comprehend why it is important to relate why the reading is germane to the coin issue and micrographic lettering.

          However, I suspect you buy into many of the conspiracy theories rife throughout the internet, since it is far easier to watch a video and listen to Internet noise than it is to read.

          Perhaps reading is not your forte. Perhaps you’re better with scatter plots, bar graphs, standard deviations … you do have some grounding in evidence-based materials, correct?

  60. mark said,

    Ken, I can’t resist pointing out to you that despite all of your comments and mockery about how we need to do our research, you have not even read the article that this thread is discussing. Read the article above this comment thread Ken – it explains why micro-graphic letters are a fraud in detail. It also explains in detail how Strobel knew that the evidence he was using was a fraud. Your endless remonstrations to do our homework and read books etc – and yet you are commenting on a page you have not even bothered to read.

    • kenn pappas said,

      I don’t believe the article is right. Again, Strobel mentions the coins in his book, and I’ve already exemplified at least five times what the real issue is. You guys have been hoodwinked by spurious information, and harp on the “microlettering” as though this is the key issue.

      If only you and Mark would actually read Strobel’s book and stop watching videos or just watching videos, you’d discover in detail what he actually talks about.

      • mark said,

        In response to your epic post to me that you began in bad Greek Ken – well it was nothing more than a tantrum. Please Ken, spare me. This is an adult exchange and you are acting like a 3 year old.

        • kenn pappas said,

          But … I suspect you can’t read Greek, so how would you know it’s bad Greek?

          If I’m not right, then give me a line in good Greek.

          I’m always willing to deign to the greater argument, but not when it’s not supported by logic or specific examples.

          I keep supplying specific examples to everything we discuss.

          It’s always easy to refute another person’s specific examples, but even more difficult to supply specific examples of your own in order to support refutation.

          This is my key point throughout.

          Strobel’s good at supplying specific examples. They may not be examples are irrefutable or even logically verifiable. However, he can turn a phrase and build an argument that impresses thousands.

          This is my greatest fear … there are people that are gifted at writing books that can persuade thousands if not millions to believe what he believes … those that disagree with gifted persuaders tend to get sloppy about building factual information that can refute the arguments of the gifted persuaders. As a result, they gain strength and deplete the power and progress of science and logic.

  61. kenn pappas said,

    Roman Imperial Coin Lettering
    jp29.org/capmon.htmROMAN IMPERIAL COIN LETTERING. Roman Capitalis Monumentalis lettering and its modification and adaptation by the coin engravers of the Roman Empire …

    Reading and Cataloging Roman Imperial Coins
    coins.calkinsc.com/old_site/rcrc/rcrc.htmlThis article examines several

    Roman Imperial coins and illustrates their … The exergue of this coin contains [6] a Γ (a Greek gamma), [7] the letters SIS, and [8] a …
    Images for ROMAN IMPERIAL COIN LETTERING – Report images

    Abbreviations on Roman Imperial Coins
    dougsmith.ancients.info/abb.htmlUnlike gold and silver issues, Roman Imperial bronze coins contained less than … bronze coins issued before the late third century AD bore the letters SC on the …

    I just copied a couple references on coin lettering from the net. Again, there is some dispute about whether or not there was an actual process of microlettering on Roman coins in the first century. Of course there were coins with microlettering.

    Strobel claims that there were two coins issued by the Romans with the name Quirinius. He claims that Luke offers a coin by a lesser known Quirinius as factual evidence that Jesus’ family really did take part in a census.

    Here’s what I keep saying that you keep ignoring. (1) Yes, it’s true, there is indisputable evidence of Roman coins with microlettering if by microlettering, or micrographing, Strobel means “small engraved lettering”. (2) There may actually have been two Quirinius coins, or maybe not, but this is such a small concern that it misses the point about whether or not Luke is writing “factually” as understood by modern terms or merely building material to demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ. (3) This argument is like arguing whether or not Joseph Smith actually discovered tablets … what’s the difference, it’s not even worth discussing … the mere idea is absurd.

    The concept of micrographing leads to an absurd discussion; the real point is this: Luke is not attempting to represent factual history as understood by modern day terms. He’s representing history so that men may believe Jesus is the Christ, the true purpose of a gospel. Let’s face it, if any of the gospel writers were writing history as it is understood in modern day terms, then we’d have some reference to Jesus’ appearance, what he did as a child [Luke is the only one that refers to what Jesus did in his pre-teens ... appear in a temple and preach]

    The reason I keep referring to the gospel of Luke is that the only reason Strobel references micrographing is because he refers to the Quirinius coins that are related to the census story that appears only in the gospel of Luke where Quirinius is mentioned.

    It doesn’t matter if the coins specifically exist or not. The mere idea that Luke is referring to actual history is flawed. The reason that Strobel brings up the Quirinius coins and microlettering is to demonstrate that this is one more “fact” that shows how the gospel writers “prove” Jesus to be the Christ, the resurrected Messiah.

    Of course the idea is absurd. But … faith rests on absurdity because of the very fact that it cannot be subjected to repetitive evidence. No experiment can be performed to demonstrate the factual basis for faith. The micrographing is such a picayune issue.

    This is a typical trap by believers. They get skeptics sidetracked from the real issue, which is that the gospels cannot possibly be a representation of factual evidence for Christ or the resurrection as a real or verifiable event.

    However, here’s my original contention. Those that pursue faith cannot be subjected to evidence-based arguments because they will not accept these type of presentations. Therein lies the problem. Atheists build arguments to convince other atheists, believers build arguments to convince believers. The only debate possible is to argue within the context of the material itself, which is the evidence presented in the gospels.

    As I have demonstrated, Roman coins do exist in the first century that contain microlettering meaning “small engraved lettering”.

    Strobel and believers, whether a coin can be evidenced or not, will believe that there were probably two Quiriniuses. This is not a new argument. Strobel has merely made it a new argument by bringing up the coins. The argument that there were two guys named Quirinius has been around for several decades.

    Once again, here’s my point. It is absolutely necessary to understand what’s represented in the gospels so that you guys understand where the material that Strobel is referring to comes from.

    This is important: Quirinius is only mentioned in the gospel of Luke. Strobel uses Luke as his basis for proving that Jesus is the Christ and that this can be factually proven. Strobel understands Luke to be looking for “fact” like a modern historian would, but to the first century mind, fact and story are equally valid, and testable, verifiable fact is not so important (after all, they lacked labs, microscopes, telescopes and other devices).

    So … why bother with minutia like “micrographing” when there’s more at stake.

    I say once again: In order to comprehend the power of believers that know how to research and gather material to support their positions, it is absolutely necessary to read what they read.

    Read the gospel of Luke and other biblical materials, familiarize yourself with what the believers read. This is how they develop their arguments. This is how they hoodwink people into getting caught in the quagmire of minutia that detract from the key issues.

    If the skeptic is more informed than the blind believer, then he holds the greater sword and cannot be defeated.

    Read those scholars who have done their homework, of which Albert Schweitzer (who wrote in the start of the 20th century) is one. He wrote the book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus; it’s a landmark book, valuable reading for anyone who’s a history buff that concerns himself with how thinking broke away from Medieval concepts with the outbreak of the Renaissance.

  62. mark said,

    No Ken, you have not demonstrated that micro-graphic letters exist on Roman coins . None of those examples you identify contain micro-graphic letters clearly you don’t grasp what micro-graphic letters as Strobel describes them actually means. Nothing like the micrography Strobel describes has been found on any Roman coin.

    • kenn pappas said,

      You are missing the point. Strobel has not demonstrated any specific examples of micrographic lettering at all. Of course there is lettering that can be considered micrographic on Roman coins if you translate micrographic lettering as “small lettering” as a generic phrase. This is exactly what he relies on when he uses this term. He wants the examiner to perceive “micrographic” as synonymous to “small lettering”. If there were anything more than this ambiguity — which I have already stated is a use of false logic under “equivocation”, or the use of two similar terms to indicate one concept — then Strobel would be right.

      However, he’s right in stating that there is the possibility that there was a second Quinirius. As I keep stating, though, it’s such an insignificant point. To use this particular example to demonstrate that Luke is seeking factual truth is like finding one needle in a haystack and assuming the whole haystack is producing needles.

      • mark said,

        Ken, if you actually believe that micro-graphic lettering just means “small lettering”, then you have obviously no idea whatsoever about what the controversy over micro-graphy is. No Ken, we are not tsalking about small lettering – we are talking abiout micro-scopic lettering. And the claim that such lettering exists on Roman coins is a fraud.

        No Ken, micro-graphic does NOT just mean small, it means microscopic.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Mark, if you respond to me, you are required to read what I write, not what you think I wrote … I said that Lee Strobel believes that “micrographing” means “small lettering”, or at least he confuses the term by using a logical fallacy called “equivocation” … did you read my previous email?

          Mark, Mark, Mark, I just wish you’d read more carefully … and please, please, please, take a class in logic; it helps. I’m not trying to be disparaging, but I sincerely mean this. I’m all for atheists contributing to the cause of clarifying skeptical rationale, but in order to be gifted in the ART of skepticism, it is necessary to read, read, read.

        • mark said,

          LOL, Ken – you are the one who needs to read more carefully. I and several others have pointed out to you that Strobel does NOT mean ‘small letters’, he clearly means MICROSCOPIC letters.

      • DagoodS said,

        kenn pappas: Strobel has not demonstrated any specific examples of micrographic lettering at all. Of course there is lettering that can be considered micrographic on Roman coins if you translate micrographic lettering as “small lettering” as a generic phrase. This is exactly what he [Strobel] relies on when he [Strobel] uses this term. He [Strobel] wants the examiner to perceive “micrographic” as synonymous to “small lettering”.

        Incorrect. Strobel makes direct reference to Vardaman’s use of micro-graphic lettering, and Vardaman defines micro-graphic lettering as “…undetectable without the magnifying glass of ancient artisans…”

        This has been pointed out to you repeatedly. Strobel uses the same definition as Vardaman. Both in his book and in a video. You continue attempting to extract yourself from claiming there is such a thing as micro-graphic lettering and continue repeating the same falsehood that Strobel meant something different than Vardaman.

        Just…stop—no one (as near as I can tell) is buying it.

        • kenn pappas said,

          This is tedious … you obviously do not read the entire posting I write, but grab at the first phrase that strikes you.

          This is the point. Strobel is using micrographing to validate Luke as a historian seeking fact, not a mere proselyte of doctrine.

          Luke cannot be made into a historian because first century writers did not write history as we understand history to be a process of discovering evidence-based materials based on scientific or archaeological evidence. Whether or not the Q coins are real or not does not “prove” that therefore Jesus was resurrected. This is the leap that Strobel makes … if he can build enough evidence to demonstrate that Luke is writing history like a modern historian writes history, then he can “prove” that there is evidence that the resurrection really took place, i.e., the guy got up out of the ground physically intact and restored to his former self before the whipping, beating and crucifixion.

          If Strobel truly understood what micrographing was, he wouldn’t make the error in judgment in the first place.

          C’mon, we assume that people don’t get up out of the ground and walk around after they’re dead. This is a given. We just don’t have any evidence that this occurs, and certainly this type of phenomena, other than in walking dead movies, doesn’t happen where any scientist could examine the evidence and explain it through physics, chemistry or biology.

          The micrographing, as understood by Strobel, is “small lettering” ..It doesn’t matter what he claims … the Gospel of Luke is not a historical book.

          Luke mentions the miracle birth of Jesus and John. Mark doesn’t. Paul doesn’t. There is no evidence before Matthew or Luke that a miracle birth took place. These are later stories added to Matthew and Luke to build the stature and validity of the Christ phenomena. These type of incidents, like so many others in Luke, attest to Luke’s method of writing history … his writings are meant to create believers.

          However, Luke, just like Strobel, are not trying to deceive anyone. They truly believe that by examining enough so-called experts, they can validate `resurrection’ as a historically verifiable event. Let’s face it, until science can demonstrate how a person who has undergone a biological change that would certify that he is dead can somehow walk around and interact with people to the extent that this phenomena can really happen, there is no evidence for ‘resurrection;.

          My point is this: Many, many people are of the belief that “those stuffy scientists don’t know nuttin’”. However, by getting entangled in minutia like Strobel presents, it’s easy to fall into a trap. If you get hung up on a subtle or blatant use of equivocation, as evidenced by the seemingly impressive sounding word “micrographing”, then you miss the forest through the trees.

          By breaking down the Gospel of Luke in detail, by studying the lack of evidence-based and verifiable material throughout, the entire concept of the `resurrection’ becomes just a story.

          Here’s where Strobel is correct … something happened that caused the disciples, and Paul, to change their lives to the extent they’d die for their beliefs regarding the phenomena of Jesus as perceived as the Christ. How do we know this? Paul tells you this in Galatians, Corinthians, and several other places throughout the New Testament. I get this information straight from the horse’s mouth.

          Why do they believe this? They must have perceived something to get them to believe that Jesus was the Christ. This was no conspiracy. These guys, Paul and the Circumcision Party (the disciples and Jerusalem Church) really though of Jesus’ death and resurrection as real events.

          But what happened? There’s the actual debate. We don’t really get any information as to what a resurrection is. Jesus died, then an angel (or in Luke, angels) sat in the tomb and said to the women that Jesus was gone. He appears to the disciples, so they assume he was “resurrected” … just how He was resurrected and what this means, we don’t know. Was He a hallucination … was He physically there but not quite as dead as they thought He was, in other words, beaten and crucified, but still able to revive and walk around … was Thomas (“the Twin”) crucified in His place, i.e., did Thomas ‘take the bullet’? Something happened. The questions could go on forever. The Gospel of Mark, minus the last sixteen lines, leave the impression that the disciples were in a quandary and may have tried to sort out what happened to Jesus after they scattered before, during and after the crucifixion.

          By the time Luke writes, people are already asking more about who Jesus was and what the Christ means. Luke tries to answer some of the questions by incorporating more material that Mark, hence the birth stories, the Quinarius census (the coin issue), additional miracles, and any other stories he can gather and incorporate into his gospel. Luke uses a pile-on method; the more information he can present, the more resurrection is validated.

          Obviously, Luke’s method is not scientific, not what a modern historian would do. He’d flunk history if he were to present his method in APA style format, since his method is suspect and not evidence-based other than through witnessing.

          Get this straight … harping on the micrographing issue is precisely what a believer does to get non-believers to bite hook, line and sinker. It’s such a small point that by keeping it alive, it detracts from the main issue that Luke is not a true historian.

          Please, please, please try to understand … it doesn’t matter if “micrographing” on Q coints is true or not. Strobel’s not trying to lie or deceive. He believes this is one of many methods that attest to the resurrection as a real event by validating Luke as a historian.

          Luke, for reasons aforementioned, is not a historian. He’s a gospel writer, and gospel writers have one main purpose … to get their readers to believe in the resurrection, not to record historical evidence in a scientifically verifiable manner.

          But … those that harp on the “micrographing” are like fish caught on the line … read Luke, study the historical theologians that have broke Luke down in detail to demonstrate that he is not a historian, and you’ll have no need to get stuck in the quagmire of micrographing.

        • mark said,

          Ken, you flew right past being merely pathetic a few posts ago. Micro-graphic means ‘not visible to the naked eye’, not ‘very small’. Whether Luke is a ‘true historian’ or not is not at all the main issue as you endlessly claim, in fact it is an utterly irrelevant diversion you transparently employ in order to pretend that Strobel has not been caught out lying.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Read this. I’ll try to make it simple … Strobel understands “micrographing” to mean “very small” … he uses the term loosely.

          Please … I can’t keep repeating myself. I’m not going to discuss this issue any more. It isn’t worth it. It’s too picayune. The issue is not whether or not micrographing is real or not real. The issue is that the gospel of Luke is not a historical document in the sense that history is written as evidenced-based as understood by a modern historian. In the words of the ineluctable Thing, “‘Nuff said”.

        • mark said,

          LOL, seriously Ken – you are by far the most inept apologist I have ever encountered. No Ken Luke is not the issue – Luke is simply your diversion.

        • kenn pappas said,

          I’ll tell you what … . If you ever make an attempt to read any of the gospels, and want to debate specific content and what scholars have exemplified regarding historical evidence, then we can continue discussion.

          You’re fixed on one documentary and what you believe to be the definitive issue, although I’m not sure what you really believe you’re proving by demonstrating that micrographing is not really small lettering.

          You miss the point. Unless you read, you lack significant knowledge of the entire basis behind the argument represented in historical theology.

          Here’s what you’re missing … you don’t really know what the Gospel of Luke is about because you haven’t read it or studied it. Strobel has. He’s aware of all the key issues in the grand debate between believers and non-believers, and to get into the debate, you can’t just fixate on whether or not letters are microscopic or just small, whether Strobel misrepresents the letters or whether they actually exist.

          The double Q issue has existed well before Rudolph Bultmann ever wrote, and has been part of the debate for at least 80 years, perhaps longer. Strobel only tries to bring it to light with archaeological evidence, and whether the evidence is true or not, the issue will continue to be a point of debate.

          His “genius” is to bring together all the key points that believers present into one book, and if you’re not aware of the rationale behind these points, and the arguments as they have been presented within the context of historical theology, then you’ll remain naive regarding the depth of these issues.

          Believers read so that they can fortify their preconceptions; non-believers that don’t read cannot possibly understand what the basis of these preconceptions are, because they don’t comprehend their source … the substance of the New Testament, Old Testament, and other writings stemming from centuries of records.

          I believe you said you were a history major. I’m not. I’m just a person that reads and thinks quite a bit, and writes for a living, hence, my long responses. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that in order to get to know your opposition, you have to know what your opposition thinks.

          Getting to know what your opposition thinks means that you have to read what they read or you’ll be clueless and name-call … i.e., use words like “moron”, “charlatan,” and “idiot”.

        • mark said,

          No the main point is that Strobel is a fraud – his claims regarding micro-graphy were clearly exposed as fraudulent. A deliberate deception intended specifically to defraud people into accepting evidence that he knew was fake. You keep repeating that micro-graphic means ‘very small’, despite being repeatedly corrected. Micro-graphic means ‘microscopic’ and no such letters have been found on any of the coins. For a man who claims to be educated and well read, you seem able only to repeat endlessly evidently false excuses. The only ad nauseum here is your childish repetitiion of the blatantly deceptive excuse that micro-graphic means ‘very small’.

  63. mark said,

    Oh and Ken, your nonsense about reading Greek is just pathetic. There is no Q in Greek Ken.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      Didn’t we get past this 101 type of conversation yet regarding the ‘Q’ in Greek? From now on, if you want to discuss this particular issue, only respond to me in Greek … .

  64. DagoodS said,

    kenn pappas The micrographing, as understood by Strobel, is “small lettering” ..

    Incorrect. Again. Strobel relies upon McRay and Vardaman to define micro-graphic letters. Strobel and McRay rely upon Vardaman to define micro-graphic letters. Vardaman defines micro-graphic letters as “…undetectable without the magnifying glass of ancient artisans…”

    You can repeat this falsehood as much as you want—increased number of repetitions will not somehow make it magically true.

    kenn pappas Please, please, please try to understand … it doesn’t matter if “micrographing” on Q coints is true or not.

    Please, please, please try to understand yourself—there is no Q coin! (Quirinius or Qunaris or Quinarius). There is no micro-graphic lettering on any coin at all. It is not a question of whether it is true or not—it doesn’t exist.

    kenn pappas But … those that harp on the “micrographing” are like fish caught on the line ….

    Ah, but I am not harping on micro-graphic lettering. I am harping on you (and Strobel) being blazingly incorrect regarding micro-graphic lettering. For, “If the skeptic is more informed than the blind believer, then he holds the greater sword and cannot be defeated.”* You appear equally uninformed regarding mico-graphic lettering as Strobel.

    *kenn pappas, comment November 23, 2012.

    (P.S. If it helps, I do read your other points regarding Luke as a historian. I am focusing on this one issue raised by the original blog entry. If you want to discuss other points NOT raised in the original blog entry, you are free to write your own blog post regarding the same. I may or may not comment on it.)

  65. DagoodS said,

    kenn pappas: Read this. I’ll try to make it simple … Strobel understands “micrographing” to mean “very small” … he uses the term loosely.

    Incorrect. Still. Maybe some quotes will illuminate the problem:

    Strobel: ““Jerry Vardaman found a coin with what archeologists call ‘micro-graphic letters’ that simply means very tiny writings that proved Quirinius was pro-counsel of Syria from 11 B.C. to after the death of Herod…”

    McRay (as quoted by Strobel): “He [McRay] responded by saying, “An eminent archaeologist named Jerry Vardaman has done a great deal of work in this regard. He has found a coin with the name of Quirinius onit in very small writing, or what we call ‘micrographic’ letters…”

    Vardaman’s description of microletters: “If small microletters were added to the die, undetectable without the magnifying glass of ancient artisans,…” (pg. 67, Chronos, Kairos, Christos: Nativity and Chronological Studies Presented to Jack Finegan)

    Some additional facts:

    1. If the letters were NOT microscopic—everyone would see them. Then this claim would not be so spectacular.
    2. Despite my request, you have yet to provide any citation OTHER than Vardaman, indicating any other person—qualified or not—thinks there are micrographic letters on coins.
    3. If this was smaller lettering—show us the coin! Show us a picture! Show us a drawing! Heck, tell us what coin it was! Show us anything—ANYTHING regarding any such coin with small, medium, large or extra-crispy lettering of any sort whatsoever dealing with Quirinius.

    While Strobel’s lying is problematic, your incompetence, kenn pappas, is equally disastrous.

    • kenn pappas said,

      You will never understand, so I will stop trying to explain it. You not only miss the forest through the trees … you’ve crossed into another universe. If you actually read anything I wrote without grabbing singular phrases, you’d understand.

      Once again, micrographing does exist. As I’ve stated over and over, which many have denied, but your quote just proved, Strobel understands micrographing to be “small lettering” and commits the logical fallacy of equivocation. I’ve explained what this is in at least five postings. I won’t repeat my explanation again.

      Strobel’s not a liar, just not the best factual researcher.

      Once again, this is an issue that doesn’t even qualify as “tip of the iceberg” in terms of what’s wrong with attempting to demonstrate Luke as a writer of fact. And again, I won’t repeat my explanation again, because everyone who replies to me chooses not to read, but merely to watch documentaries and fuel spite and anger as a weapon against fundamentalism.

      This discussion is becoming a waste of time.

      If you want to respond to the issue that I’ve actually exemplified, instead of misrepresenting what I’ve said by taking a phrase or two out of context, then we have a discussion.

      Try reading and understanding the Gospel of Luke and the myriad of scholars that have examined its undertrappings. Then, and only then, will you understand the issue that’s really at stake behind the coin issue.

      A good 80 to 100 years ago, well before Rudolf Bultmann wrote, the issue of whether or not there was a second Q was already posited. The coin “micrographing” is just an attempt to validate this point.

      The real point behind Strobel’s writing is TO DEMONSTRATE THAT LUKE IS A FACTUAL WRITER !

      The micrographing in and of itself is a minor point. It really doesn’t matter whether or not it’s microscopic, small lettering, or even exists or doesn’t exist. The point is that believers want to demonstrate that Luke writes fact as though history is being recorded as evidence-based like a modern scientist or research-based historian would exemplify fact … but … I’m wasting my time, because nobody bothers to read this far and comprehend what I’m saying.

      By this time, a phrase I have mentioned has already been taken out of context without examination of my real point, and we’re back to a mawkish DISPUTATIVE argument again … .

      Definition of disputative argument: “Those are my marbles” … “no they’re not” … “yes they are” … “no they’re not” … ad nauseum … .

  66. mark said,

    Have to laugh at your particularly fatuous comment Ken; “Strobel’s not a liar, he is just not the best factual researcher.”

    So he’s not a liar huh Ken, he is just careless with the truth right?

    So, it’s not that he is a fraud, he is just not interested in accuracy, right?

    So he’s not actually a liar, conman and charlatan, he (in your educated opinion) just doesn’t care enough if his claims are facutal or self invented?

    For gawd’s sake, Ken – you are unbelievable! LOL

  67. Daniel said,

    Trying to dis-credit Lee Strobel’s The Case For Faith for the above reasoning would appear to be bordering on the ridiculous, pardon the expression. To overlook the 48 OT prophecies and fulfillment concerning Jesus Christ, which should satisfy any doubts, is beyond comprehension.

    • mark said,

      well, how exactly is it is ridiculous to criticize strobel on the grounds that he was caught out lying? By the way, not one of those prophecies has any evidential value – none have any specific details.

  68. Daniel said,

    Excuse me, I meant The Case For Christ, but above mentioned book imcluded

    • Daniel said,

      Why is it necessary to get more specific? It is obvious to anyone that Isaiah 53 is describing the attributes of Jesus, written 400 years prior. But no one is being forced to believe. God will allow anyone to believe what they want to believe. He will also allow un-believers to be turned away at the judgement day.

  69. Hey there, I think your website might be having browser
    compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it
    has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!

    Other then that, excellent blog!

  70. steven hunt said,

    i believe there are alot of christians out there that do not understand the teachings of jesus even though they have studied the bible thier whole life.
    forcing your releigion on people is not at all what jesus taught. we are told to inspire others and create interest in jesus through acts of kindness forgiveness and love. most importantly, do NOT judge others. i see alot of christians judging others and not inspiring others with acts and rather telling people theyre going to hell if they dont claim jesus as thier lord and savior. if all christians/catholics would inspire the heck out of people with incredible kindness, forgiveness and love without judgement maybe more people would come to know jesus and they would be helping thier cause
    i myself am a christian and i want to spread the word of god in the most non intrusive loving way and inspire rather than force individuals to follow jesus hopefully future christians will adopt this way of fellowship and get rid of the tarnishment that comes with the term “‘christian”
    thank you

    • kenn pappas said,

      You’re from the “new” generation of Christians that believes it is okay to forego education, skip comma usage, capitalization, and grammatical correctness altogether. Why not pay a little respect to your faith and capitalize “Jesus”? Paul, as you probably are aware, especially since you claim to be a Bible reader, was an educated man, and was fluent in Latin and Greek, albeit his Greek was faulty. There’s nothing wrong with a little education. Paul used education to his advantage. When you become a bit more educated, then you should jump into a discussion and post a commentary. However, education is important. Your hero, Jesus, was also an educated man.

  71. bob dole said,

    Wow, after reading this WHOLE comment section, I can honestly say I agree with Jim Jeffries. Religious people are mentally insane. So much double speak, straw man arguments, ad hoc arguments, and pseudo spiritual hocus pocus. It’s laughable to anyone that actually has an education…

    BTW Lee Strobel was NEVER an atheist, sorry guys, he lied. If he was an atheist he would at least have a basic grasp of Evolution, he doesn’t. The main reason I know he’s a liar though is because I’ve met him on multiple occasions, and as an educated person with a great grasp on science, he’s a pseudoscientist, and a charlatan at that. Worst kind of people that exist, if he wasn’t scamming old people and ignorant youth for their coins with religion, he’d be doing it with mail order scams, it’s the same drive and mentality.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      Former presidential candidate … ? Why is it that anyone spends much time pursuing an argument against Lee and calling him a “liar” [this seems to be the trendy word that most people that enter this site use] . Religion stands in another universe apart from science, and cannot in any form or manner present itself as “evidence-based”; however, Lee Strobel is not a liar … he just doesn’t truly grasp what evidence-based fact or scientific reasoning is. He serves a purpose, though. He appeals to a growing population of people seeking a quick-fix answer to how the machinations of the universe work as they are guided by a grand overseer, God and His son. He’s grandfatherly in appearance and approach. He serves a purpose. Till the end of time, we will always have god-seeking followers that just get confused with even the simplest of formulas such as F=MA and E=MC2, which in their ramifications, become mind-boggling to most people. God makes people feel good … and the more we level words like “liar” at people like Lee, the more people that follow his way of thinking come back and say, “what do those so-called educated people know” … Lee may be the Kevin Trudeau of the new wave approach toward “proving” the Resurrection as a fact, but there’s no stopping him. I just look at him as `somebody’s grandfather’ that tends to his flock, and the flock will grow no matter what anyone with a science background tries to do. He’s not a `liar’; he’s just a guy that represents more vocally than most what most people want … quick-fix answers that eschew thinking and `hurting the head’ with complex thought-provoking posits.

      • mark said,

        Ken, that is just pathetic – people call Strobel a liar, not because it is ‘trendy’, but because he is a liar. As just one established and verifyable example micro-graphic lettering that he used as evidence for his claims was a fraud.

        • kennwrite@aol.com said,

          Oh, I forgot. You’re one of those guys incapable of carrying on a rational conversation and reduces everything to emotive language.

          k

        • mark said,

          Ken a lie is a lie. Strobel got caught out lying – there is no excuse. He is a liar and a fraud. Micrographic lettering does not exist on the Roman coins he refers to.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Believers are those people that need to cling to the apron strings of gods that make them feel good. They are not liars; they just cease thinking critically because they never quite grasp what the evidence-based scientific definition of “fact” is. Not all people are cut out to be evidence-based. This is the fallible dilemma of being human; some brains swell too much when confronted with compex math, the concepts purported by physics, and other such issues. The term “liar” does not adequately describe people that do not conduct research with a proper understanding of evidence-based critical thinking. They’re merely deluded because they believe they’re representing “truth”; those that think critically will say something like this: “the only truths you can trust are the laws of physics … everything else is a mere opinion” … but those that don’t think critically are not liars. They just don’t get it, that’s all there is to it.

  72. Best Pills for Losing Weight had initially come into the scenario experimenting on the
    fat burning pills. But if your idea of getting a doctor’s prescription, while latter is available over-the-counter.

  73. kenn pappas said,

    This issue with Quirinus is such a picayune point that it is comparable to missing the forest between the trees. This is the genius of Strobel, and you, Andrew, don’t seem to get it. Strobel’s key point is that if the witnesses, i.e., the disciples, were so compelled to risk their lives preaching the resurrected Christ, then the Resurrection must be a real event.

    I’m not saying I agree with this logic; I’m only saying that this is Strobel’s key issue. His “build” throughout his book thereafter is in support of this point, that the Resurrection is a “real” event in the sense that a body came back and walked the earth after it was dead in the form of the Christ, or Jesus resurrected.

    Strobel uses “pile on” as his methodology. In other words, he tries to gather a large number of witnesses, i.e., selected Christian scholars that agree with his logic or support his thesis that because the disciples preached the Resurrection, therefore it must be true. He also picks on events in Luke as though Luke were writing history.

    The “Quirinus” reference is just a little one. The whole presentation wreaks of error. However, I’ve said this before. Strobel is not a liar; he’s just not gifted with a higher logic. Let’s face it. Faith cannot be based on logic because there is no such thing as a scientific or evidence-based proof of any religious belief; if religion where science, then it wouldn’t be based on faith.

    k

    • Sean said,

      kenn pappas,

      You say: “Faith cannot be based on logic because there is no such thing as a scientific or evidence-based proof of any religious belief; if religion where science, then it wouldn’t be based on faith.”

      Do you really believe that!!? Jesus and the Bible are records of real historical figures and places. So there is evidence-based proof that one can look into to see if at the very least if those things check out.

      Is there nothing in the past that we can look to for evidence to see if it really happened? I doubt you believe that, but you have very strange rational if you truly believe your original statement.

      Science and religion are by no means incompatible. I have a faith in Christ that is based on facts on evidence. Now I wasn’t there, and I can’t know with 100% certainty (but no one can on pretty much anything of antiquity), but I have faith based off of very reasonable evidence that points me in this direction.

      • kenn pappas said,

        Let me clarify what is “evidence-based” … . The laws of physics, e.g., laws of thermodynamics, Avogadro’s number (for gases), Planck’s number (how particle packets travel in very, very small waves), Einstein’s relativity, and the entire science of chemistry and electronics, which are branches of physics, are “evidence-based”; the principles work the same everywhere in the known universe (at this point, there is no such thing as the “unknown” universe, which is an absurd and non-observable concept). I would agree that Jesus is a figure in history, albeit a vague one, since we don’t know much about Him except that He was reported to preach, heal, die and resurrect. However, we have to believe the reports of witnesses, not evidence. In order for us to understand evidence of His miracles, we’d have to be able to reproduce miracles in some testable form. Now I do believe that doctors are miracle workers, because they can produce the same results with a high level of accuracy in many medical procedures (not all, but many). Jesus, however, was only reported to have performed miracles, and we’re not always sure what the miracles are supposed to mean. In fact, the early Christians disputed the meaning of miracles, the concept of the Son of God, Son of Man, Messiah, relationship of God to Son to Spirit, and many other concepts, primarily because these are not testable or evidence-based concepts. I would defend to the end anyone’s right to have faith in a God or a risen Christ. However, this faith is incompatible with science, which thrives on evidence-based facts, i.e., the laws of physics. Religion is grounded in non-fact, non-evidence-based beliefs, and is not defendable other than as a personal choice and commitment. Again, on an existential basis, I would say that anyone has a right to find personal evidence in his or her life that God exists, and if his or her life is the better for it, then this faith becomes “factual” for that person in the sense that he or she functions better as a person. Yet this personal faith is not capable of proof by the very nature of the belief system in that there is no way to provide repeatable evidence for faith such as a miracle that works every time with a specific utterance or procedure.

  74. Mariana said,

    Your current write-up provides verified beneficial to me
    personally. It’s quite educational and you’re clearly extremely educated in this field. You have got opened our eyes to various opinion of this particular matter along with intriguing and reliable content material.

  75. グッチ said,

    This design is steller! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own
    blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really loved what you had to say, and more
    than that, how you presented it. Too cool! http://nursingthefuture.

    ca/forum/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=135561, ؔ

    • kenn pappas said,

      The link on the video (it is for the video, right?) doesn’t work … http://nursing the future … are there characters missing or is there another link?

  76. J Christ said,

    Ignore Ken Pappas. Through all the pomp is a inability to progress. You waste your time charming him.

    • kenn pappas said,

      Unfortunately, you probably count yourself among the atheist initiate that tend to express yourself with a pseudo-pedantic (yes, this is a double whammy) tone. Where most atheists lack substance is in their logical thinking, or even worse, in their knowledge of the Bible or other works such as the Koran. In order to combat written or oral materials that are expressed by persons such as Lee Strobel, it takes a thorough knowledge of the Gospel of Luke and writers such as Ehrman, Robinson, and other biblical scholars. Strobel tends to ignore these type of writers because they are not committed to a faith-based approach to biblical documents.

      However, as I have said repeatedly, the problem with atheists is that they tend to present themselves with a distinct irascible tone used to override a lack of biblical knowledge when treating issues of faith. Creationists gain ground against atheists when they actually study philosophy and learn to twist logic in a manner that is more impressive than atheists can, much like a magician who knows more about sword-swallowing than a loud mouth does, and so is more able to protect himself from swallowing substances that could burn out his throat, unlike the loud mouth who burns out his throat with too much verbiage that becomes nonsensical without a strong dose of critical thinking to support his caustic phraseology.

      Lee Strobel is a practiced and published author. He is also an orator with a strong following. He is potentially dangerous to critical thinking. Yet what do most atheists do to combat his thinking and his presentation? They yelp louder. A strong bark never lasts long; it becomes irritating and dies down and fades into the night along with the howl of other dumb beasts.

      It is so important to know the Bible in order to combat the thinking of those that are faith-based that depart from logical thinking, those who become enraptured with themselves because they believe they can actually `prove’ the Resurrection.

      However, Lee Strobel is not a `liar’ and a bad person. Faith-based people are just people looking for quick-fix answers and actually believe they have found them. Quick-fix answers supply fuel for our emotions as human beings, and quick-fix answers drive multitudes. In order to get people to think, it is important to gain knowledge of the substance of the Bible, the battle ground of quick-fix answers.

      For instance, most people who are arm-chair atheists and are not geared in historical theology would have no idea why scholars believe that Peter II was not written by the disciple Peter. They read that the letter wasn’t written by him, but couldn’t tell you why it wasn’t. Peter, the alleged author of this letter, says that a day in the Lord’s eyes could be a thousand years, and as a result, the second coming of the Christ could be delayed infinitely. This passage indicates that a second-century author, dismayed by the fact that the Christ never appeared in the immediate generation after the death of Jesus, tried to extend the time of the second coming to assuage the potential falling away of believers. He writes in Peter’s name to give his letter credence. The author of this letter, this `Peter’, may actually believe in his own idea that a day is equal to a thousand years in God’s eyes.

      These concepts are the fuel of faith-based people, and their beliefs are non-scientific, are not evidence-based, and yet move multitudes because they make people feel better. This brings up a whole new issue. Should the people under the influence of Lee Strobel, a grandfatherly person who can move multitudes, be called a `liar’, or is he just expressing what people who lack the brains or initiative to think otherwise want to hear?

      Merely calling oneself an atheist is not tantamount to saying that one is a critical thinker. This is why I detest the term. `Existentialist’ is probably a better term for those that forge their own beliefs based on critical thinking, or even `critical thinker’, for that matter.

      Terms like `liar’ are so picayune and don’t really substantiate any argument, though.

  77. cynthia.curran8@email.com said,

    The Presbyterians, UCC, United Methodists, ELCA Lutherans, and the Roman Catholic Church are all highly critical of claims put forth by Creationists and ID Proponents such as Jonathan Wells (who is a lawyer by the way). In fact, the Methodists recently passed a resolution that goes as far as calling ID intellectually dishonest and specifically recommends teaching it in any high school curriculum.

    If The Case For Creation is anything like Strobel’s other attempts at ‘journalism’, then he needs to be called out as a complete charlatan. With that book, Strobel is practicing a more measured, but no less dishonest version of Ann Coulter journalism.

    These churches don’t take the bible seriously anyway, they are pretty liberal except for the Roman Catholic Church. They still except theories on the old testament from the late 19th century. For instance they believe that Genesis was written by Babylonian influence in the 7th century but more recent information on Genesis shows it has more in common with Egyptian creation stories than those of Babylon or earlier Mesopotamian stories. Both the Hebrew bible and one of the Egyptian tales has God as a Potter. Its quite possible that Moses or another writer was influence by Egypt and not Mesopotamia like the Mainline Churches believe on the matter. As for Quirinus Luke might be off but at least Quirinus was governor within 10 years of Jesus’s birth that what counts since ancient texts make some factual errors that are closed to what happen in other ancient works. For example, Suetonius and Plutarch disagree at what age Julius Caesar was captured by pirates.. As for ID we humans don’t know what happen before writing was invented. Those that held to random evolution still have some gaps in their theory as well..

    • mark said,

      cynthia, evolution isn’t random. It is driven by environmental feedback. Also evolution is a fact, there may be ‘holes’ in our exlanation of that fact (the theory of evolution) such as common ancestry, but genetic change over time remains a fact.

  78. S.H. Apour said,

    That’s it? That’s your case against Lee Strobel? For all the salient points he makes and defends in all his books, I’ll say it is not compelling.

  79. Thank you for some other fantastic article. The place else may just anybody get that
    kind of info in such a perfect manner of writing?
    I have a presentation next week, and I’m at
    the look for such info.

  80. No one starts out as the big fish in the pond; you start small and build your
    way up. Whenever you leave her remember to tell her how much you enjoyed just talking with her, don’t forget to compliment her
    looks after you’ve left her. With her large legacy, Isabel travels the Continent and meets an American expatriate, Gilbert Osmond,
    in Florence.

  81. I seldom comment, but after looking at a great deal of responses
    on The Case Against Lee Strobel | Evaluating Christianity.
    I actually do have some questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Is it just me or does it give the impression like a few of the responses appear as if they are written by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are posting at additional online sites,
    I’d like to follow you. Would you post a list of all of all your shared sites like
    your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      I hate to call anybody `brain dead’ when each individual tries to make sense of faith or non-faith issues to the best of his capabilities. However, the problem many people have is that they do not supply strong evidence for their various perspectives. I particularly have a problem with faith-believers that have fundamental principles to which they adhere without consideration for anything but what agrees with their personal revelations, but also have a problem with atheists that are not kind to faith-believers that lack the capability of thinking at a level which allows them to adequately support their perceptions. What is particularly disturbing is when either side does not have an adequate understanding of Biblical documentation or what scholars contribute to the field of historical theology. Even the phrase, though, `I have a problem’ is somewhat strong, since I’ve realized a long time ago that discussions over theological issues usually stimulate personal feelings, and cause people to react with profanity, abusive language, insidious retorts, and thought processes which precludes discussion.

  82. infowarrior1 said,

    Reblogged this on Breaking through illusions and commented:
    Well there is dashed what I hoped was a good Christian Author.

  83. Hai said,

    Thank you for writing this and giving links! :)

  84. A Teen said,

    A Conservative Christian Teaching:
    All humans are bent only on their own destruction. Living according to the Bible is deeply fulfilling. The Bible is the ultimate source of morality. The Bible prevents the human from being bent on their own destruction. Darwinism takes away all reason to live according to The Bible. Any human without the Bible will live an unfulfilling, immoral, destructive life.

    It is worth noting that Lee Strobel’s story fits CCT “To a T”:
    “I was an atheist for most of my life…I had a lot of self-motivation for living an atheistic lifestyle. I was living a very immoral life and a drunken life, life that was really a hundred percent focused on journalism…I lied about my age and got a job at a newspaper as a summer intern…I would steal; I would commit a federal crime by stealing federal documents from the courthouse…so I would go in there, and I would beat the competition…I would lie…I intentionally mislead and deceived them, because I figured they would tell me more than if they knew I was a reporter. There was nothing that I wouldn’t do in pursuit of a story. I would step on my colleagues, in a very Machiavellian way. I, behind the scenes, destroyed the career of one of my colleagues because he was in my way…That’s a terrible thing to do, to destroy someone’s career; but I did it. And I didn’t care. It didn’t bother me one iota, because he was in my way. Get rid of him, destroy him…and I was able to do it. He got called on his honeymoon to be informed that he had been fired from his job…a terrible thing. But, as I said, I had no moral sense of right or wrong. If something was in my way, I got rid of it…I arranged for the destruction of that unborn child. It didn’t bother me at all. Something was in the way…I was getting rid of it. That was my atheistic mindset: completely focused on achieving my goal of success at the Chicago Tribune.”
    ~Interview with Lee Strobel
    “The very place where I lost my faith in God…the biology classroom…when I first learned about Darwin’s theory of evolution…for the first time, I had a rational reason to abandon Christianity…after a while, I noticed that I really didn’t care about other people…other people noticed my hardening heart…What was wrong with me? Why didn’t I care? Why didn’t I empathize?…Worst of all, why didn’t all my successes satisfy me? Why did I always want more?…My secret dissatisfaction…”
    ~The Case for Christ, Youth Edition

    Then, Lee Strobel doesn’t actually “ask the tough questions…sift through the truths that history, science, psychiatry, literature, and religion reveal.” Rather, he appears to ask the tough questions, shows readers only evidence that support Jesus, and only professional specialist opinions of Conservative Christians.

    While it’s not inconceivable that a story such as Lee’s could occur, I question his testimony since his book seems to be staged.

    The Case for Christ, Youth Edition http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/994111.The_Case_for_Christ_Youth_Edition
    Interview with Lee Strobel
    http://www.lifestory.org/component/myblog/lee-strobels-case-for-christ.html
    Atheists’ reviews for Lee Strobel’s line of questioning and evidence in The Case for Christ
    http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Lee_Strobel
    I would have linked Christian or Religious review and critique of this book, but it looks like no one is yet to do so.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      I loved your presentation … I really think you hit the nail on the head.

      I agree, Lee Strobel really doesn’t `ask the tough questions’

      Strobel’s research comes primarily from the testimonials of Christian scholars, who are also believers. He doesn’t spend much time with scholars who are also Darwin supporters (it takes quite a bit of faith in evidenced-based thinking to accept Darwin’s thinking as factual.

      I don’t believe that Strobel intentionally deceives. It’s tough to work through some of the laws of physics and to learn chemistry or calculus. Most people don’t want to bother; instead, they look for the `anodyne cure’, the answer to all ailments, the simple faith-healing response that overrides what science has to offer, since, after all, it’s easier to pursue one universal idea that if the right person comes along and properly lays his hands on the sick, with enough faith, the sick become healthy … what do we really need medicine for? Unfortunately, there are people who need to embraced `the anodyne cure’ because science just makes their heads hurt.

  85. There are at least three possibilities here for how we can interpret what is written in Luke 2:2:

    (1) Luke made a historical error. This would presuppose that Luke was not inspired by the Holy Spirit in all his writings.

    (2) The Greek word for “first” in Luke 2:2 is protos and can be translated “before.” Thus Luke 2:2 could actually be translated, “This was the census taken before Quirinius was governor of Syria.”

    (3) Quirinius actually ruled Syria on two separate occasions and there were actually two censuses taken. The “first census” mentioned in Luke 2:2 occurred during his first term as governor, and another was ordered during his second term as governor mentioned in Acts 5:37, which probably took place between AD 6-7 (Josephus links this census to an uprising under Judas of Galilee). With Luke being the author of both Luke and Acts and wanting to write in “consecutive order” (Luke 1:3), it would seem unlikely for Luke to make such a mistake in dating.

    Further, the Christian doctrine of the inerrancy of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21) leads us to accept explanation (2) or (3) as the most likely, with the most evidence pointing to explanation (3). The Bible is true and spoken from God’s mouth (God-breathed), and we accept it as truth more than the historical writings of the Romans or even the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus.

    Recommended Resource: Jesus: The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll

    You cannot bring enough evidence to have the bible disprove itself just as I will never be able to provide enough evidence to you to accept creation. We have our worldviews… our presuppositions… our faiths. You have faith in something that hasn’t been figured out yet and I have a faith in something that seems to have all the answers… as weird and surreal as it is. Jesus is who he said he was. We all sin. We all lie and cheat and steal and lust and hate… all heart issues. Death will come in a breath. Enjoy your vote.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      Here’s the primary proof for the reason the resurrection did not take place. We can’t reproduce a `resurrection’, such as zapping a body with electricity and coming up with an entity like Frankenstein’s monster.

      If we could, then we could assume the dead could walk. But they can’t. Zombie movies are just that … zombie movies.

      All we have to rely on in the gospels (I’m just referring to the primary four, not others) is witnessing, and any evidence-based thinker knows that witnessing is not evidence, i.e., if you can’t reproduce the event or conditions, then it just ain’t true.

      John (Gospel of John) has Peter and the `beloved disciple’ run to the tomb, but the tomb is already empty. Mary runs to the tomb but sees a guy who she believes is a gardener, and the gardener speaks her name, Mary,’ and she replies `Rabboni’ … but there is no actual explanation of what a resurrection is. Was it a chemical process? Was Jesus subjected to electrical magic just like the Frankenstein monster was? What happened that indicates a passing from physical state to a magical or resurrected state? How do the dead awaken?

      Here’s several possibilities (and this is only if you accept that the testimony or witnessing has even a minute fabric of truth to it):

      (1) Jesus survived the cross in the sense that he didn’t die.

      Jesus took the wine vinegar, which caused a numbing effect, and allowed him to withstand pain enough to make one or two more appearances until at last he succumbed to his traumatic wounds and died.

      (2) Jesus had a person that looked like him, e.g., Thomas the Twin, his disciple, and Thomas either filled in for him on the cross, or filled in for him after Jesus died.

      (3) Jesus was placed in a common grave and nobody ever found him, as indicated by the statement that Mary makes, “they have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they put Him.” (Gospel of John).

      (4) Later tradition creates the story and the various Gospel writers represent it differently according to how they received the tradition, or how their respective churches interpreted what message was being spread around at the time.

      (5) Jesus died and the whole story was fabricated as the disciples, who scattered at the time of the crucifixion, then reassembled in Galilee, scrambled to put together an interpretation that would keep the story going, and came up with the resurrection idea.

      Testimony, or witnessing, does not bear evidence for truth. Testimony is not factual. A person can make up any tradition and call it a fact, but it isn’t a fact. It’s much like what happens when a person passes by an accident at the side of the road, sees a lot of blood, sees a mangled body, and assumes the person died. However, the blood was not as bad as it looked, the body was twisted, but not so mangled as the perceiver thought, and in two weeks, the person’s wounds healed and the alleged mangled person is walking around again going about his business.

      Testimony does not represent fact; it’s mere interpretation without verification, and allows for those prone to superstition, which ran rampant in the first century, to formulate erroneous conclusions.

      There is no `most likely’ explanation to the gospel reports because the purpose of the gospels was not to record fact in the sense that we receive fact today, e.g., water is H2O, Columbus discovered America in 1492. The gospels are written `so that you may believe’, i.e., testimonial. Testimonial is written for the purpose of getting you, the reader or perceiver, to believe without the body of evidence, or the facts. Testimonial offers suggestions without actual reproducible or verifiable evidence.

      This is why there is no detailed explanation of a resurrection, or the actual chemical process of how a physical body goes to an ethereal place called `Heaven’. These are words that wreak of mythology, or what people come up with when they lack telescopes and microscopes.

      The gospel writers give explanations to the best of their capabilities without the support of the instruments that would allow them to perform verifications. They can only offer what their eyes see and minds think. We all know, however, that the corner magician is not really performing real magic in the sense that objects really disappear from the physical world. He uses sleight of hand. Why do we know this? Because in all cases, we can pat him down and find the object, or find someone else who has learned the trick. With microscopes and telescopes, however, there is no tricking the eye. What the eye sees can be verified by conducting experiments to see the same thing over and over. We know bacteria exist because we can see them and rediscover them over and over, even though we can’t see them with the naked eye. We know they exist because when we introduce them into our bodies, they cause the same symptoms and illnesses.

      With testimonial, however, the eye is easily fooled, because we can’t see the same thing that others did.

      The argument cannot be defended that `just because you can’t prove that Jesus wasn’t resurrected, therefore the possibility exists that He did.’ If you can’t prove the resurrection, it means that there is flaw in the testimony, since bodies don’t convert from corporeal to ethereal, except in science fiction movies with special effects.

      As said by the elite producers of Marvel comics, “`nuff said”.

      • What evidence do you have that testimony, or witnessing, does not bear evidence for truth? Simon Greenleaf’s well-known work, a Treatise on the Law of Evidence, is considered a classic of American jurisprudence. This gentleman also authored, The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence. I would guess he is more authorized to speak about these things than you and he says that the testimony of the evangelists certainly bears evidence for the truth.

        If you disagree, please state your credentials.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Actually, he’s not more authorized to talk about witnessing than I am. I am a trained logician, I possess a couple Master’s degrees, and … in truth, so what if I have degrees or whether or not someone has gone to Harvard. This is what’s called a fallacious `argumentum ad vericundiam’, or argument from authority without treating the substance of the argument.

          I will once again state emphatically that witnessing is not proof in and of itself, which is why there are so many books written discussing passages which are clearly in error within the gospels. The pastoral letters, for instance, have been called into question by many Christian scholars, both believers and non-believers (just because someone says one of the letters of Paul is not written by Paul does not mean he or she is not a Christian). The pastoral letters (Timothy I & II, and Titus) contain contradictory information that clashes with Paul’s more historical or verifiable letters. For instance, Timothy I mentions that women are to remain silent because they gossip too much, while Paul, in Thessalonians I, mentions that we are all equal in God’s eyes, men, women and slaves alike. Either Paul thought women were inferior to men or he thought they had equal voice. He clearly admires women such as Pricilla, for instance, and most likely, she served as a supportive matron who helped him formulate meeting places for his church. Timothy I and the other pastorals, for numerous reasons (I’ve given one example; you’ll have to research other reasons; if I have time and you want to know more, I can give you 10 or 12 more) are most likely not historical because they clash with Paul’s writings in Galatians, Romans, and Thessalonians I, three of his most consistent letters.

          Certainly we don’t want to admit Paul is inconsistent entirely in his presentation, since he seems to be careful about his message.

          I only mention the pastorals because you quoted from Timothy 3:16, what’s called the parousia, (in Greek, the presence or idea of a thing or concept) or the `tradition’ passed on to Paul. This line may actually trace back to a message received by Paul himself from an early apostolic tradition, but was nonetheless just the by-product of witnessing, not fact. This passage says relates the body passed on to the spirit, or the transfer of Jesus to the ethereal world. By the time the gospels are written, this tradition was already present in Christian thought, but the verbiage is vague and does not explain how in any comprehensible manner a body actually transforms to a spirit. There is no example, other than zombie movies, of how something like this occurs, although a zombie is sort of like a spiritless body; however, even with a zombie, it’s quite unclear what the missing part really is … zombies are part of science-fiction…so is, by modern terms, body to ethereal spirit transference concepts, since there are no actual explanations, i.e., ways of recreating the event through experiment, that such a phenomenon could occur.

          Witnessing always falls short of evidence because the event cannot be replicated through experiment or observable fact. The premise doesn’t hold water. Merely comparing the witnessing of Jesus to modern-day legal techniques doesn’t make a provable factual statement. This argument is called a non-sequitur, another logical fallacy.

        • Your natural evidence will never present itself. Your supernatural evidence may come after your last breath (stated from your worldview), but alas then it will be too late.

          Tell me, what faith system to you ascribe to as to how nothing became something. How does that which is outside of time, space, and matter (pure spirit) provide evidence sufficient for you in the finite?

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          These are good questions:

          What is “natural evidence” as opposed to “supernatural evidence”? Natural evidence, I suppose, would be science. Science is evidence-based; for instance, if you gather together 1,000 examples of brontosaurus bones and carbon date them to approximately a couple thousand years of each other, there’s good evidence that brontosauruses walked around the earth at a stipulated time in the Earth’s history.

          `Supernatural evidence’, however, is … the drawings on a Casper comic page demonstrating that ghosts exist? I’m not sure what this term means.

          How does `nothing become something’? Describe `nothing’ … and if anyone can, he or she would be the first to do so.

          Faith … that’s an interesting term. Faith, according to Paul, is the acceptance that we died with Jesus and are awaiting the resurrection with Jesus when he appears on the clouds of heaven as depicted by the prophet Daniel (Romans). This is one of Paul’s core messages.

          Faith is also what Christians need to overcome fear of death, anxiety, drug abuse, threat to family and friends, and support for deficiencies. Faith can be valuable, such as when a grandmother goes to church to light a candle for her grandson who died in Afghanistan.

          Those who take faith away from believers are insidious and demeaning to others, and ought to just disappear from the Earth and leave respecting people alone — my personal commentary.

          However, that being said, faith is just not something that can be evidenced, and all attempts to justify faith break down when subjected to logical or evidence-based thinking.

  86. Ashley said,

    As a Christian, I appreciate this information.
    I do want to say, despite of what you have experienced, each human has the makeup to worship their Creator. That’s why there is deep emptiness when we don’t have a relationship with God. Nothing can or will fill that void.
    Proof of who He is comes as you have a closer relationship with Him. I cannot tell you how many time He has proven His existence to me personally. It’s been numerous.
    One thing to keep in mind is this- if we could understand everything about God, that would make Him human, not God.
    My story is that I lived a life full of crap. Drugs, alcohol, lust, lies, guilt…. And God pulled me out of that, saved me and set me on sturdy ground. I didn’t do it, God did, and I will live my life here on earth to worship Him for what He did for me, and to tell others that He wants to do it for them too. Then, when I leave this life, I will enter Heaven, because of what His Son Jesus did for me when He died on the cross.
    Being a Christian isn’t about laws and theology. That will NEVER bring peace. Being a Christian is about saying “Hey, God, I would really like to believe that you are real. Will you reveal yourself to me?” And He will. He will because He wants you to know Him. Then, once you know Him, you have the opportunity to ask forgiveness for your sins and be saved from ending up in Hell after death.
    What I tell atheists is this- humans can’t prove God. It’s impossible. But if your heart sincerely wants to know the truth, rather than to fight to dispute the truth, give God a real chance to show Himself to you in His own way. He will do it.

    • Well said Ashley

      • Kenn Pappas said,

        I will say this: Any atheist that claims a Christian does not have a faith that is real is lying. Faith is a personal choice that becomes just as real as any other aspect of existence, and as far as I’m concerned, is untouchable by any logical argument.

        I spend most of my time disputing errors in documentation, and debating whether or not Paul actually wrote several of the letter ascribed to him. However, this is not to say that therefore Paul has no value to the Christian believer. In fact, his message of faith, hope and love in Corinthians is one of the best messages ever offered to human beings; if it were not, then many people would be lost without the hope he offers through belief in Christ.

        I’m not a believer; I’m Jewish, and a half-baked one at that. But I say my Shema … “Hear, O Israel …” every day, and think that even if there is no God to receive it, there just might be … .

        I have no real need for a faith, except for this: I find it so necessary for a faith to be available for all who need it that I would be horrified if temples and churches ceased to exist. Where there are people, there will be believers, and the right to believe and to have a faith must be protected against atheists who would seek to take that right away.

        There are fascinating stories in the Bible. Whether someone is a believer, a fair-weather churchgoer, or just an explorer of what the writers say in the books of the Bible, there are always revelations that will come from the exploration regardless of the level of faith.

        It becomes impossible to say that God does not exist as long as there is one person who says He does and believes He does, and can demonstrate that his or her life has changed for the better as a result.

  87. Ruth Quiring said,

    I haven’t even read all your arguments and debates but it does seem like everyone is trying to prove or disprove God as the triune God with Jesus as his son and the Holy Spirit by proof of science and history. I am at a time in my life where for the first time after a lifetime of growing up and believing in Evangelical Christianity, I am hearing all this from my son, and am questioning also. But it does seem to me that people like yourselves and maybe Lee Strobel whose books I have read are focused on the wrong things. Does it have to be proven and taken apart in order to have faith and believe that something or someone had to be responsible for the perfection of our creation and our bodies and how it all works together. Of course we are great at ruining it all. If we try to argue how Christianity is proven or unproven I am starting to think we are focused on the wrong things. Possibly we can be focused on our humaness and our inability to figure it all out. Why else would there be so many opinions about religions and why science or history proves or disproves it? There is certainly much history that talks about our world and which is true. Of course cultures all had their way of interpreting how to live. Of course we want to figure it all out, but can we? That may be the best proof for me. I don’t know. But it certainly points to a higher power. I know Christianity changes people’s lives for the better.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      I would defend to the end the right for a person to call himself or herself a Christian by believing that Jesus departed from the empty tomb, appeared to His disciples, and went off into some place called Heaven. However, there certainly is no argument presentable regarding this commitment to faith. Jesus may be presented as having rose from the dead in the sense He physically died and walked around again after three days, but there is no reproducible way to demonstrate that this is possible. Nobody walks after He dies (except in zombie movies, which, I hope, most people take with a grain of salt).

      Certainly some type of commitment was formulated by the disciples and apostles (Paul and Barnabas being apostles, not disciples); however, nobody actually saw Jesus go to a place called Heaven, since this event is not described in the gospels. There is the impression left that He disappeared, but no detail is supplied, and as a result, no conclusion can be formulated apart from imagination.

      Paul gives us a true impression of what Resurrection is in Romans 6:1 and Thessalonians 1, 4:13, where there is an expectation of Jesus to come in the future in order to give opportunity to people to rise to this place called Heaven just like Him. However, Resurrection does not come for anyone in his own lifetime. Resurrection, for all people, is a future event. Those who are Christians are essentially in limbo, not dead, not alive, just … somewhere.

      The expectation that Paul has for a personal Resurrection is clearly laid out in Thessalonians 1; those who are dead will rise first, and those still waiting (i.e., those still alive, of which Paul is one), are going next to this place called Heaven, when Jesus, as is indicated in Daniel 7:13, will come on the clouds of Heaven to bring about the Resurrection. Paul is expecting in his lifetime that he will be called, after the existing dead, to the Resurrection.

      It never happens, though, and the Church must go on. Thessalonians 2, and Peter 2, (letters most scholars would agree were not written by Paul or Peter, but by later Christians), emphasize that the Resurrection is something that already happened or will happen must later than was expected, which becomes a new faith commitment of the Church as it evolves past the original concept of Resurrection.

      Faith can be a valuable pathway for many Christians; faith in Jesus as Christ as a common factor for participation in youth events, charity, love for other people, and personal health such as avoidance of drugs, can be extremely valuable to many people. A commitment to God such as the old lady who touches Jesus’ garment and is healed of her sores (Mark and Matthew) can be a powerful faith. If by faith, a person is led to a better life where it is healthier, then faith is real in the sense it is meaningful. If, however, the testimonials that Jesus is the Christ are not credible to the person who examines them and perceives them to be lacking in fact or evidence, then this is also a valid conclusion.

      The question of what is meaningful and valuable to a person’s life is really what the empty tomb presents. If the believer sees that Jesus got out of the tomb and went to a place called Heaven that he or she also wants to go to, then his or her faith is meaningful. If the question of the empty tomb becomes absurd, then he or she who perceives the absurdity moves away from this concept as ridiculous and meaningless, much like Disco Stu does when confronted by something creepy on a couple episodes of the Simpsons when he utters his inglorious line, `back away’ … .

  88. Ruth Quiring said,

    Ken, how can you in this day and age know all of this for sure? Who is valid in what they say for sure? Just because one thinks it is ridiculous for a human to rise from the dead, does that make it untrue? Is there a God and is he divine seems more like the question? If so, and Jesus was his son, is he also not divine and does things on earth that are divine and miraculous? I am asking these questions, not because I know, but because I am also questioning, not disagreeing with your point of view and facts that you know. I do think if one believes in a God, he is not human. Something or someone started the whole cosmic universe even as there is now evidence that there may be other universes. Just because all the pieces do not fit together in our human understanding and the way people in the Bible interpreted things, does that mean the basic underlying truth of God is untrue? Certainly people in ancient times put things together by what they understood at the time. Much of the world believed that the world was flat at one time and interpreted things that way. It wasn’t true but that is what they wrote about. So who is to say the underlying thinking of the people at the time was true or untrue? I think possibly you come to believe in a God, because you see how he works in people/s lives now. Also because you look at the universes and really know it all couldn’t have “just happened”.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      The key phrase here is “in this day and age”, which implies that somehow people can more readily wake up and walk the earth after dying in current times more than in previous. However, superstition from the past teaches us that with the proper witches’ brew, the dead could be wakened, and zombie-like traditions were born. In this day and age, though, science, particularly anatomy and physiology, teaches us that when the body is dead, it’s dead. There is no walking the earth after death. Once dead, always dead. The Bible, Paul in particular, teaches from the tradition he receives from the disciples, that the Resurrection must be a fleshly one; the Resurrection is a body walking after death (Corinthians I:15, for instance). Yet we know that there is no such possibility. Not one single piece of evidence exists in this day and age of anyone walking the earth after dying. If one has been dead for three days, he or she is truly dead. Nobody comes out of the grave after dead. There are stories of NDE (near death experience), which are also absurd; however, none of these stories encompasses a three-day death. There are stories of someone being declared clinically dead, and then a half hour later, waking up. These stories are suspect. And yet there is never a story of someone waking up and walking out of a tomb or a grave or any other such place after three days. In this day and age, we know for a myriad of scientific reasons that this is not possible; other than the wild claims of uneducated persons who report stories to magazines such as the National Enquirer, zombies do not really exist. The story of Jesus and the Christ myth is a wonderful story, but unfortunately, it’s just that.

      I will reiterate that I will defend to the death the right for someone to embrace the Christ myth as real, and I will personally admit that I don’t step on sidewalk cracks, but I recognize my behavior as conditioning; we all embrace myths and superstitions in some form or manner; however, I won’t claim to present my actions as indicative of fact or something I can justify other than as an absurd belief or action.

      That’s just the way it is … .

      • chaya1957 said,

        That is what a miracle is, a violation of the laws of nature and science as we know them. Perhaps the laws of heaven invade and overcome the laws of earth, even for a tiny moment of space-time. Perhaps when an other-worldly force enters this existence, it brings its own atmosphere along.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          There is no such thing as a violation of the laws of nature, or more aptly, the laws of physics. Einstein’s E=Mc2, Newton’s F=MA, Avogadro’s number, and many other laws, are factual and have been demonstrated to be the same over and over experimentally. Rising from the dead, though, has not been demonstrated to be the same case over and over experimentally. That’s why the latter is called `faith’ and not considered to be an `evidence-based’ train of thought.

      • chaya1957 said,

        Anyone know what happened to the blog owner? It seems his last post was 2010, but it still stands and comments are still coming?

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          I think the blog owner’s primary goal was to pick on Lee and emphasize that he was a liar, as though he was out to intentionally deceive Christians. Even though I did not perceive Lee’s book to be the best contribution the historical theology literature, I don’t think Lee was a liar in the sense that he was malicious. In fact, I personally commented on several occasions that I would love to sit down and talk with Lee. He seems like a really nice guy.

  89. Fred said,

    Evidence against Lee?? Really? All you have is “Vardaman?…….? I was expecting an avalanche of evidence that would leave no doubt that Lee is a liar, but just ” Vardaman”? You Sir are the liar

    • chaya1957 said,

      He who is faithful in little is faithful in much, and he who is dishonest in little is dishonest in much. Evangelical celebrities and talking heads are able to be sloppy and even fraudulent because they and their works are not questioned, even superficially.

      Tell me who was the one overturning the moneychangers tables?

      These folks are probably not malicious, but they are hirelings, out to make $$$$$. That the bar is set pretty low helps.

      There ought to be a logical fallacy called, “the nice guy fallacy.” Nice guys are to be trusted and can’t be dishonest, right? SMH/SMT

      • Kenn Pappas said,

        Well, the good thing about evangelicals is that had there not been any, many of Chaucer’s tales wouldn’t have been written, and I do love the Canterbury Tales. Face it, for those who think they don’t like evangelicals … who would be there to pick on without them? We need evangelicals … what would they do, the soapbox manufacturers, pulpit makers, primer-style Bible story writers, and others of this kind, without evangelicals? It’s true, evangelicals create jobs, stimulate the economy … there’s just too many reasons to have evangelicals in this world.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Agree, multimillionaire televangelists need love too, and there would be no one to buy their new corporate jet. Publishing companies keep in business selling pop theology just like the romance novel business. Conferences and the speaker circuit provides work for illegals who clean the hotel rooms. What’s not to love? Who would watch the schlocky films and buy the fluff books? And they will be very nice to you if they think you agree with them.

  90. kara said,

    anyone can claim flaws in anything people say. everything is flawed bc we live in a flawed world. i say flawed things all the time, just as every single person on this earth does. i think he tried very hard in his very best way to prove a case to you and many others. He’s not perfect but i wouldn’t call him names just because you don’t agree. he is trying to get you to see something you’ve never seen before, and open your eyes to realising that one day you will be finding out the truth as we were all born to die. Why would you risk it? and why would you spend your life trying to flaw someone else?
    Christians just believe after you die you can live, instead of going through hell.i pray you start seeing what this is really about and not what you want it to be. May God Bless you.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      There are some statements that are more flawed than others. For instance, most of us would agree that `killing for Christ’ is a flawed concept of what Jesus required to commit to faith. Presupposing the Resurrection of Jesus in the sense that He got up out of the tomb and walked on the face of the Earth to be a factual event as opposed to being a commitment to faith is also a flawed statement, if someone believes that the event is logically provable. It isn’t. There is no way to test the event through a similar recreation or experiment, and the event can only be affirmed if one believes that the witnesses, Mary and a couple disciples, are telling the truth. The actual Ascension, i.e., where Jesus goes after He leaves the Earth, is never described in any detail whatsoever. He just seems to disappear. Yet people attest to this event as though it is fact, and assume that those who question it as a bunch of hooey are somehow in the grips of the Devil (or deprived of God and committed to damnation). Yet there is no actual reported event in terms of the process of where Jesus went. It is said that he rose, but what does that mean? Did He levitate? Did He pass Saturn on His way out of the solar system? Is He sitting in the galaxy Andromeda? Where precisely did the guy go?

  91. Ron Reagan said,

    Kenn Pappas said: “..Wa-Waa-Waa-Wa-Wa-Wa…”
    (cue Charlie Brown’s Teacher’s sound).

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      Typically, when a person is devoid of intellectual capabilities, especially an inability to think critically, he falls into absurdity, the old `neener-neener’ syndrome … however, eventually, when placing his fingers near his nostrils in order to form the `neener-neener’ appendage simulated by his thumb placed against his nose, the person devoid of intellectual capabilities will find that he has inadvertently plunged his thumb into his nostril and eradicated any brain tissue still active … .

  92. Thus said,

    This is a non-issue. Only born-again believers are in any way able to understand God’s Word, as it states within itself that only by intervention by the Holy Spirit can one understand the Bible. Otherwise, it’s like a child playing with daddy’s gun. Bad things will happen.

    I’m willing to be that Andrew formulated his understanding of Luke 2 from a modern Bible version. As a non-christian, Andrew would not have known that the modern versions of the Bible have been attacked and perverted by Satan.

    The KJV says in Luke 2, verses 1 &2 that:

    And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

    (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

    Contrast that with the perversion known as the NIV:

    In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.

    (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

    The somehow the tax turned into a census in the NIV and the reference to Cyrenius (or Quirinius) completely changed.

    The KJV which only translates the original Hebrew word for word leaves the impression that Cyrenius was the one who originated the tax, but does not say that the taxation happened during his service. On the other hand, the modern versions, which use a dynamic translation where the translators take their own liberty to translate what they believe the meaning of the passage is has plainly stated that the census took place during Cyrenius’ governorship.

    The SAME verse, two totally different meanings.

    The answer is quite simple. The tax was originated by Cyrenius and the KJV correctly references that Caesar Augustus was carrying on the tradition.

    As we all know, once a tax starts, it never ends.

    To attack this alledged contradiction is a waste of time. What’s better is to attack Christians who use Bibles that have been perverted by the Devil.

    How do you know which ones are perverted? Just read the cover. If the cover lies, so does the innards.

    Look at the NIV for instance. NIV means New International Version. Ask yourself, is it the New International Version? No. There is no international language, so it can’t serve an international clientele.

    What about the NAS, New American Standard. Is it actually the New Standard Bible for Americans? NO, but the publishers wish it was. Optimistic thinking at best.

    What about the Authorized King James Version? Was this Bible authorized by a king named James? Why yes, it was!

    Next, look to see if the Bible is copyrighted. God’s words can not be owned by man. Therefore, if there is a copyright, it’s not of God. It has been produced for “filthy lucre” or in other words MONEY.

    This is how to attack Christians. Demand that they stop introducing confusion into the discussion by allowing perverted Bible versions to color the simple truth. THEN we can have some reasonable doctrinal discussions about the core of the matter, Jesus Christ Crucified for the sins of the world!

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      Though I am not an atheist, I will say this: You, Thus, are a danger to the progress of modern Christianity. The KJV, though a brilliant attempt at translation at the time (1611) is obsolete and inaccurate. That’s why modern publications are so much more accurate.

      The KJV relied heavily on Greek documents translated by Erasmus, who wrote and translated in the early 1600s. He did not have the best documents available to him, and as a result, made numerous mistakes in his translations. This example is similar to someone concluding that the Earth is the center of the universe primarily because he is unable to look through a telescope because it has not yet been created.

      The danger of your trust in old documents is that you lose knowledge of some of the most erroneous lines that have been included in the KJV (and many modern versions that are not properly annotated as well).

      For instance, Matthew 27:25 makes the Jews as a nation responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion (look it up in your KJV, Thus, I won’t do your homework for you). This passage is not in keeping with Matthew, who is writing primarily to Jewish Christians. The line doesn’t appear in many of our recently discovered Greek documents, which may well have been written several decades before our previously discovered manuscripts.

      Here’s a couple of facts you need to know, Thus:

      None of the documents were called `Matthew, Mark, Luke or John’ until well into the second century, approximately 150 A.D.

      The King James Version uses italics wherever the scholars could not agree on what the passages meant, especially with difficult concepts such as `Son of Man’, which could, by today’s standards, be translated as `Son of Humanity’ (sorry, I betray by pedantic self, since I do know Greek).

      The Gospel of Thomas is necessary reading for any Christian, since it gives us great insight into how the Gospel of Matthew and Luke may have been influenced in how they changed up the sayings of Jesus and reinterpreted them (Matthew being more concerned with writing to Jewish Christians, Luke to the Gentile Church).

      Thus, do your homework. Don’t be stuck in `old school’ … God demands it. And, please, don’t pretend to be God and call other people Satanic. That’s what the medievalists did, and they tortured people for their so-called insight. As the great Cardinal Richelieu said, “you have built your ladders into Heaven; I will not seek so high nor stoop so low” … don’t be a ladder builder until you learn how to climb the rungs.

      • Freddie Lynch said,

        Kenn,

        Please note that the Pharisees and Sadducees often referred to Jesus as ‘the son of Mary’ – not ‘the son of man’.

  93. Freddie Lynch said,

    Where’s the historical proof that Augustus Caesar issued a call for the census that supposedly sent Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem? Can you imagine the chaos that a census of that nature -where everyone had to go to the city of his ancestors – would have caused the Roman Empire?

    • k said,

      It is convenient for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2.1) to fulfill prophecy (Micah 5.2, for instance). History is not to Matthew’s purpose, of course. Fulfillment of prophecy is. This story, though, makes for some cute little pageants at the local church, which is why such myths survive. The story is not important to Paul, nor to the early churches that followed Mark or John as their gospel of choice. It was only well into the second century that we learn the gospel of Matthew got its name as a book written by `Matthew,’ at least as evidenced by St. Iraneus, who refers to the four gospels by name. Matthew searches heavily for fulfillment of Jesus as Messiah or Christ through Jewish writings, and … the Bethlehem story fits nicely into portraying Jesus as the `boy wonder’ (not to be confused with `Robin).

      • Freddie Lynch said,

        The website is tribunesandtriumphs.org, and it does point out the fact that the Romans usually left the bodies of the crucified on the cross. It does, however, point out that they often made sure the bodies were taken down before the Sabbath to placate the Jewish leaders so I’ll concede the point that perhaps Jesus was removed from the cross.

        I don’t believe I was trying to supply an answer to who carried the cross. I simply stated that it was not the custom for anyone else but the condemned person to carry the cross-beam to the execution site. And I don’t think that any Roman soldier would have personally bold enough to step outside the boundaries at this time – or any other – when it could have meant putting his own life on the line.

        And how did we get from someone else carrying the cross to whether of not Jesus was nailed to the cross? I didn’t even mention that fact.
        And I also note that you ignored my question about how a physically fit man such as Jesus died so quickly.

        • chaya1957 said,

          I’m not sure a man who had been beaten severely and was bleeding, possible internal organ damage would be in a very fit state, despite well-developed muscles.

        • Freddie Lynch said,

          “I’m not sure a man who had been beaten severely and was bleeding, possible internal organ damage would be in a very fit state, despite well-developed muscles.”

          I can’t recall there being any information about “possible internal organ damage” given to us in any of the Gospel accounts. And I did not say Jesus had “well-developed muscles”. What I said was that He was physically fit from walking hundreds of miles over the course of His lifetime. I can imagine Jesus with more a runner’s physique than that of a weightlifter’s physique.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Regarding the point `how could a man as physically fit as Jesus have died so quickly’ … I know this idea of being `physically fit’ as a concept that assists someone in resisting bodily trauma works well in movies like `Iron Man’ and `Batman’, but physical trauma is no more staved off by physical fitness than it is with a person less physically fit; it’s trauma in either case. There is no experimental evidence to indicate that because someone has walked a few more miles that he can somehow stave off the trauma of crucifixion any better than a person who’s overweight. This is one of those points that can be argued endlessly, but the truth is, the evidence doesn’t exist to support the idea that some type of altered state occurs where a person becomes more invulnerable to crucifixion due to physical fitness from excessive walking.

  94. Freddie Lynch said,

    As I understand the history of crucifixion as practiced by the Roman Empire, several things about the gospel accounts just don’t “ring true”.
    The Romans had raised crucifixion to an “art form” – after all, they’d been at it for centuries. The first discrepancy is that no one carried the crossbeam but the condemned – NO ONE! So for Roman soldiers to call someone from the crowd to carry the crossbeam for Jesus would have been tantamount to directly disobeying an order from their commander – which would have resulted in they themselves joining Jesus and the two criminals on their own cross. If the condemned died on the way to the crucifixion site from the scourging, the crucifixion squad simply transported the body to the site and hung it on the cross anyway.

    Second, Jesus was an extremely fit individual – having walked hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles in his lifetime. I find it difficult to believe that someone so fit would have died so quickly without some sort of intervention on the part of some other group of individuals.

    Third – and perhaps most important, NO ONE would have been allowed to take Jesus’ body down from the cross and bury it in a tomb. No one was even allowed to touch the body while it was on the cross without being crucified themselves. Yes, I know Pilate had somewhat of a ‘soft spot’ for Jesus but not even Pilate could have circumvented that detail of a crucifixion. Bodies hung on their cross until the bones fell to the ground, and then the bones were buried at the foot of the cross – not in a tomb. And no one – not even relatives were allowed to take the bones any where until they appealed to the local governor. So it would have been some time before Jesus’ relatives could have buried what bones the jackals and vultures left behind.

    • k said,

      I am always fond of how a person backs his point up by emphasizing it in capitals or exclamation points rather that supplying a fact or reference to support it. It just isn’t true. Romans had several ways of crucifixion. ‘Cross’ is a Greek word, ‘stavros’, and can mean several things, particularly several shapes, an x, a t, and the practice of crucifixion on a cross as a single practice is evidenced primarily by several archeologists, none of which can be `proven’ in the Jesus incident, primarily because the gospels themselves are not factual accounts, but also because there just isn’t enough detail from credible eyewitnesses, if any at all.

      Of course, it is entirely possible that a Roman soldier could have called for someone to carry Jesus’ cross. The real point of dispute is whether or not there is enough detail present in the gospels to suggest that any of the story is true at all. Paul mentions in Corinthians, for instance, that Jesus was nailed to the cross, and Paul did meet with Peter and James, brother of Jesus as evidenced in Galatians, but just how He was nailed and in what precise manner He was hung is eternally debatable.

      The real truth of the matter is that it is entirely possible that someone could have carried the cross for Jesus … but so what? The story simply isn’t detailed or factual enough to draw a precise conclusion. To try to supply the precise answer would be to apply the `straw man’ fallacy.

      What I would find even more incredible is that Pilate had a `soft spot’ for Jesus. Why would he care about Jesus? Jesus was a small-time Jew. Pilate was a local ruler who had better things to do than put himself emotionally into small-time affairs.

      Apocryphal literature demonstrates that Pilate was made more and more into a person who cares so much for Jesus that he repents, and actually becomes a Christian and a saint (Acts of Pilate).

      More likely, as the Church evolves into a majority Gentile movement, it makes the Jews primarily responsible for Jesus condemnation (Matthew 27:25, for instance, which many believe was a later interpolation imbedded into Matthew’s gospel) Pilate, who washes his hands, becomes the good guy, Jews become the bad guys.

      • chaya1957 said,

        I’m no expert on first century history, but the poster who made some pretty strong claims did not provide any documentation. It would seem logical that the bodies were removed quickly, in order to not offend Jewish custom of quick burial and not keep bodies unburied over Shabbat. I would also assume a Roman soldier could do whatever he pleased, and it would make sense he would want to complete an execution, rather allow a situation of confusion to result with a man lying unable to walk and the crowds looking for an execution with others possibly seeking to free their compatriot.

        We know that Pilate was not any kind of nice guy, and had thousands of Jews and others put to death, and would have no qualms about killing an innocent man. I can understand the report that his wife had a dream, and people were superstitious in those times, even if they held powerful positions.

        Since there are allusions to a Hebrew Matthew, it would be fascinating if it were ever found.

        • Freddie Lynch said,

          Chaya1957, a Roman soldier could hardly do as he pleased when operating as a member of his legion or a crucifixion team. In fact, Roman soldiers on duty could be punished in a variety of ways for failing to carry out their duties.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          I agree with the point that Pilate was a cruel man who randomly crucified what we would call `innocent’ people, and could care less about the rights of Jews. The idea that he debated seriously about preserving Jesus’ life with members of the Sanhedrin, elders, or common folk is absurd. The evidence from second century literature, Acts of Pilate, and a confessional letter of Pilate, has painted him as even more innocent than the gospel when he `washes his hands’ and the blame is placed on the Jews for killing Jesus (Matthew 27:25).

          There was a growing movement among the Gentile churches against the Jewish Christians who still practiced Jewish customs. Paul is adamant about saying that it isn’t necessary to practice Jewish customs, `washing’, `circumcision’ to be a follower of Christ, but he himself still practices Jewish customs. Yet many Jewish Christians disagreed with Paul, including James and the Circumcision Party, or the Jewish Christians who did not see Jesus as anything other than the Jewish messiah (how they saw his as `messiah’ can be debated eternally).

      • Freddie Lynch said,

        Arguing both sides of the debate, are we K?

  95. Freddie Lynch said,

    As for the census argument, I refer you to http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/census.

  96. Freddie Lynch said,

    I also have to take issue with Matthew’s genealogy of as presented in the first chapter. For what reason does Matthew list Mary, the mother of Christ, along with Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba?

    • chaya1957 said,

      My take would be to demonstrate that converts and those with a very questionable past were deemed worthy to be in the lineage of King David, and so Yeshua.

      • Freddie Lynch said,

        What would a modest, newly-betrothed, pregnant Jewish maid be doing in a caravan of strangers – unchaperoned by a male relative – for the length of time it took her to reach the home of Elizabeth and Zacharias? And let’s remember, this was in a time when women were thought of as “property” with little – if any – rights!

      • Freddie Lynch said,

        What “questionable past” did Mary have? Tamar slept with her father-in-law on the day she was married to his son. The Bible says outright that Rahab was a harlot – i.e., prostitute. Ruth seduced Boaz while he was drunk under the direction of her mother-in-law, Naomi. And to disclaim that Bathsheba was ignorant of when David took walks on the castle wall is like sticking one’s head in the sand. She lived in the vicinity so she had to be aware. So what did Mary do to get herself included in this list?

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      There’s no one answer to the question of why Mary is included on the list with other `biggie’ Jewish women, since historical theology is not science. However, one strong possibility is that Matthew wants to give credence to Jesus’ Jewish birth as miraculous, and demonstrate that He is the `one to come’. John the Baptist had a large movement going, and Jesus took over that movement when John loses his head. There is indication that Andrew (and possibly Peter) came from the Baptist movement. After Jesus dies, many of the Jewish Christians who were baptized under John (and even before He died) may have come over to the Jesus movement. In order to gain followers, Matthew, a representative to the Jewish Christian movement, may have wanted Jesus to be larger than John, and so builds the virgin birth story and gives credence to Mary as one of the `biggie’ Jewish matrons. By rooting Jesus as the `one to come’ predicted from the old testament, and giving his mother greater credence, she becomes legendary, and Jesus larger than John. Luke gives John miraculous birth status almost as miraculous as Jesus, but keeps him a step under Jesus. The miracle birth stories may have been no more than a way to demonstrate that Jesus was bigger than John, a way of putting the kibosh on the Baptist movement altogether.

      • chaya1957 said,

        Miracle births have been part and parcel of ancient Jewish history.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Right. Miracle births have indeed been part of Jewish tradition. Matthew has a specific reason for including a miracle birth … to give more credence to Jesus’ Jewishness, particularly in contrast to the Pauline movement to bring the Church away from the Jewish Christian movement (or the Circumcision Party).

          Mark probably doesn’t know about any miracle birth story when he writes his gospel. Jesus is the `adopted’ son of God in Mark’s testimony. As Christianity moves into the second century, many Christian groups chose not to adopt Matthew because of the miracle birth stories.

          St. Iraneus becomes the voice confirming the miracle birth as canonical and `right’ interpretation of who Jesus was about mid-second century. Not all Christian groups agreed, however, with his adoption of this interpretation of who Jesus was.

          It isn’t by accident that Matthew includes the virgin birth. He’s very meticulous about how he crafts the story to ensure that Jesus fits the Jewish mold and that prophecy from the Psalms and Isaiah is fulfilled.

      • Freddie Lynch said,

        What’s the reason that most of you here seem to be arguing both sides of the question? All the through the four Gospels, the Jewish religious leaders all but call Jesus’ birth illegitimate – hence the terms “son of woman” and “son of Mary” – as in fact they do by using those terms to describe Jesus. And I don’t think a list that includes women of “questionable moral standing” is a list that should include someone supposed to be as “pure” and “virgin” as Mary, the mother of Jesus. I thought we were all here to talk about the “softball” questions that Mr. Strobel asks of his “researchers” in his books.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Nah, we’re not all here to talk about the Strobel issues anymore. Many of us have jumped on this site to see what others who explore concepts in historical theology think. The Strobel issue has become somewhat boring at this point. One, the whole idea of the Q coin has already been beaten to death, and two, the idea of actual eyewitnesses of the `Resurrection’, as asserted by Strobel as a proof of the Resurrection, has been discredited (unless, of course, one is driven by faith to the extent that he ignores any rational proof, in which case there’s no point in debating).

      • Freddie Lynch said,

        One even stronger possibility is that Mary had sex with someone of whom her proper Jewish did not approve – paid Joseph, an older man with a need for a wife, a handsome dowry to marry her and legitimize the child she was carrying. And I would hardly call Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba “other BIGGIE Jewish women”.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          What evidence is there to suggest that Mary had sex with another older Jew? That’s one of the zany concepts that Schonfield postulated in order to sell books (a brilliant scholar, he found a way to make some money by offering his `plot to cheat the cross theory’ in The Passover Plot, and tossed out an idea such as the one about Mary having sex with another man, then marrying Joseph and making up the virgin birth story to cover up her immoral out of wedlock act. There’s just no evidence for this plot; however, it could make a good fiction story.

        • chaya1957 said,

          Agreed. Where would this young Jewish woman find the money to ensure this dowry for herself, providing she was able to escape the watchful eyes of her family and community and meet with some disapproved suitor?

          I think we can assume the account of the family arranging the betrothal well beforehand and providing the dowry, while the groom and his family provide the bride-price, as was the custom.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          “Where would this young Jewish woman find the money … ” You have a strong knowledge of Jewish custom. I’m only half-Jewish, half Greek (but still adhere to Jewish food laws, more passed on to me from my grandmother than anything else, though admittedly, I do violate other traditions right and left). I like many of your comments; they offer insight. I’m sure by now we agree that it’s just not possible to take the Jewishness out of Jesus … . As Christianity progressed, it stripped away the Jewishness of Jesus. However, when the sayings of Jesus are extracted from the overlay of the gospel writers, Jesus as a Jew comes shining through. Recently, I’ve been exploring whether it was even possible for Jesus to have conceived of himself as God. No Jew would have seen himself as prophet and God simultaneously. Even when the gospels have John announce Jesus as the `one to come’, there’s little reason to assume that John actually thought of Jesus as `God’. If John were proclaiming this to be true, he might have gotten himself stoned to death.

        • S. Real said,

          kenpappas, all the gospels make it pretty clear that Jesus is God. John was proclaiming this. If you will note, all the disciples including John were proclaiming this. John was the only one not killed. They tarred him and he survived and he was exiled to the island of Patmos. Certainly we know the early Christians were being greatly persecuted. Even extrabiblical sources share this.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          John who wrote Revelation is not the same John who wrote the gospel. The Gospel of John was only called the Gospel of John in the mid-second century. Before that, it was just a gospel in circulation.

          John was `tarred’ … a later tradition, no doubt. I know that Tertullian mentions that John was boiled in oil … not quite the same as being tarred. Nonetheless, Tertullian writes well into the second century (maybe early third century as well?) and can’t be trusted as a witness able to say that John of Patmos was the same John who wrote the gospel merely because they share the name `John’. `Extrabiblical’ sources are not scripture. The argument is weak.

        • Freddie Lynch said,

          “One even stronger possibility is that Mary had sex with someone of whom her proper Jewish did not approve – paid Joseph, an older man with a need for a wife, a handsome dowry to marry her and legitimize the child she was carrying.”

          I really do dislike being misquoted. I said absolutely nothing about Mary having had a sexual relationship with another Jewish man – what I said was that Mary had a sexual relationship with someone her proper Jewish [parents] did not approve of and found a proper Jewish man – Joseph – who was willing for some reason or another to take Mary as his wife and give her unborn child a “legitimate” name.

          It’s funny – some if not all of you have evidently read Mr. Strobel’s book but that begs the question – what else have you read that challenges or substantiates the Gospels? Not much it seems!

        • chaya1957 said,

          I think you meant to say, “her proper Jewish FAMILY?” This has little to do with the gospels, but you can’t impose modern modes of behavior upon a culture so removed by distance and time. I don’t have any respect for Strobel, but there are many competent scholars in this area.

          It would be highly unlikely for a young woman in that culture to have access and opportunity for a relationship with a man, especially one outside the community, nor would it be likely a woman would desire to endanger her social standing and dignity in that manner, nor would she have independent access to finances nor an ability to make a betrothal transaction on her own.

          I believe the, “Jesus as God,” doctrine didn’t appear until the 4th century, but I am no expert on this. There are lots of materials available that help with the understanding of the Jewish context of the teachings of Jesus and the first century writings. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2012/08/10/august-10-2012-jewish-jesus/10572/

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Well, you can’t say you were misquoted because you had a significant missing word, “parents”, which you added in your response. This word changes everything. As a result, you really can’t say you were misquoted.

          As to what others read, I can say that recently, I’ve read Bart Ehrman’s Forged three times and Robinson’s Gospel of Jesus (also for the third time). Both are great books.

          I also do something most don’t. I read the New Testament several times each year, and at least five of the Old Testament books each year.

          Also, it’s important to read other translations such as the Didache (the alleged teachings of the apostles), Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Mary, Acts of Paul, letters of Polycarp, St. Clement of Alexandria, Iraneus … (the list goes on) or at least several summaries of each. I can’t read in any other language except Greek, and I don’t claim to be an expert. I can speak modern Greek, and know some middle Greek, but don’t pretend to be an expert.

          Also, it’s important to examine how some of the sayings of Jesus may have arisen from the Jewish Midrash, or at least have paralleled them (in particular, the parables, which is a literary device that the Pharisees would have been familiar with).

          Nothing’s written in stone when it comes to studies in historical theology, especially since this field is not pure science; however, it is important to examine as much as possible when it comes canonical and non-canonical (or apocryphal literature like Corinthians 3 or the Secret Gospel of Mark).

          In either case, the idea that Mary had an affair or a relationship with someone her parents didn’t approve of … where does this come from? Which gospel? I don’t see this in any of the gospels.

          There’s great danger in `reading between the lines’, which departs from evidence-based thinking altogether.

        • Freddie Lynch said,

          Considering that I again said nothing about Mary providing her own dowry – which is in no way a Jewish custom, I can understand now how denominations and cults get started.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Well … it’s just not true. A dowry is a Jewish custom, at least in Jesus’ time.

        • Freddie Lynch said,

          My remark was that there is no such Jewish custom as the bride paying her dowry.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          The idea that a bride would pay her own `dowry’ is a meaningless idea. A `dowry’, by definition, is a payment received on behalf of the bride. The custom of a dowry means that a significant male pays for the exchange of a daughter.

  97. Freddie Lynch said,

    S. Real said,

    June 3, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    kenpappas, all the gospels make it pretty clear that Jesus is God. John was proclaiming this. If you will note, all the disciples including John were proclaiming this. John was the only one not killed. They tarred him and he survived and he was exiled to the island of Patmos. Certainly we know the early Christians were being greatly persecuted. Even extrabiblical sources share this.

    Certainly all the gospels make it clear that “Jesus is God” – that’s the purpose for which they were written! I have to ask this – if Jesus was God, what is the reason that James, his brother and leader of the Jerusalem church, was not out “knocking on doors” and spreading the word that Jesus was God? In fact, isn’t this the real reason Paul was arguing with the Jerusalem church – that Jesus was in fact a “god” and worthy of having his own worship cult? Is that not the reason he wrote Romans – which Biblical scholars agree was written before any of the Gospels?

    And I will agree that early Christians were horrifically persecuted – but so was anyone else who failed to worship the emperor as a god. And during Christianity’s spread, the priests of the “one true Church” persecuted others who tried to use their “free will” and worship other gods just as horrifically as the early Christians were persecuted. Does the fact that early Christians were persecuted justify the latter attitude? All I will say is that those actions do not seem very “Christ-like” to me.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      The gospels claim in their various ways that Jesus is God. Mark has Jesus use titles such as the `son of man’ or `son of humanity’ (depending on which translation suits you), where John will have Jesus call himself `son of God’.

      The titles change with parallel passages throughout the synoptic gospels as well. In either case, the gospels are not factual documents. They claim that Jesus is God, but the question still remains, did Jesus perceive Himself as God? The gospels are written years after He dies, Mark being written well after Paul composed his letters. Jesus has been transformed into a Gentile version of His Jewish roots, and Matthew has the heinous line (Matthew 27:25) that makes all Jews responsible for His crucifixion. Jesus’ Jewishness, by the time the gospels are written, has been shaved from him to the extent that He no longer belongs to His heritage (a good Jewish boy). He does command His disciples to go only to the Jews and not to the Gentiles. It gives us reason to believe that Matthew 27:25 was a later redaction (or edit by a later scribe) who added this line due to growing anti-Semitism. After all, the earliest writings we have post date Jesus by at least a century and a half. The Gospel of Matthew wasn’t even called `Matthew’ until well into the middle of the second century.

      Yes, the gospels call Jesus `God’, but the question remains, did Jesus call Himself `God’? By the time the gospels are written, Jesus is long gone. Jesus may have seen Himself as a messianic figure, but precisely how He was messianic differs from gospel to gospel. He was born into the role of Son of God from the Logos in John from the Logos, hatched from a virgin in Matthew, hatched from a virgin after John is hatched from a miracle birth in Luke, and merely adopted by God during His baptism in Mark. How He becomes a messianic figure, or how he thought of Himself as a messianic figure is debatable. A Jew would never have called Himself God. It would have been blasphemy. No prophet would claim to be God. John only wants to know if Jesus is the `one to come’, but doesn’t say that Jesus is God.

      Many Christians in the second century and thereafter were offended at the idea that Jesus should be equated with God. This is one of the concerns during the disputes between the followers of Arius and Athanasius in the fourth century, and the reason why the synods were convened, and why it took so long for the Nicene Creed to be written, and why many of the Byzantine churches refused to adopt the Nicene Creed, and one reason why the first schism occurs (and several thereafter).

      We take for granted the Trinity concept has always been accepted, and that all Christians always believed Jesus to be God, but this was offensive to many early Christians. Paul even mentions that there are those among the Christians (Corinthians 1) that say there was no Resurrection (of Jesus as Christ). Paul only knows this to be true because He received a vision; he wasn’t even an eyewitness, which also bothered many of the early Christians, particularly Jewish Christians who thought that Paul was not on equal ground with Peter and James because he was not considered to be an actual apostle. Paul even mentions that this is a problem that he wasn’t one of the original apostles and comes `last’ (Thessalonians 1).

      Did Jesus think of Himself as God? Not an easy question to answer.

      • Freddie Lynch said,

        Are you “talking” just to hear yourself “talk? And I for one don’t care if you speak pig-latin, you still haven’t answered my questions.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          Let me respond again. You obviously didn’t read my response nor catch my meaning. The gospels are not history and all the gospels do not make it clear that Jesus is God. Each gospel has a different idea of what Jesus is. The gospel of Mark has Jesus become the adopted son of God, but not the substance of God. Matthew has Jesus as God in the sense He was born of a virgin (which rests solely on a mistranslation of Isaiah, who wasn’t even talking about Jesus to come, but prophesying to persons within his lifetime centuries before Jesus). Luke makes Jesus and John a miracle birth. John has Jesus dropped out of the Logos. Jesus is God in some loose sense, but here’s the real problem. Jesus was a Jew, and Jews did not think of any mortal as `God’ … neither would Jesus have thought of Himself as God. Certainly the gospel writers did, but they disagree about what the `Jesus is God’ concept means. It isn’t until after the gospels are written that the Trinity concept becomes part of Church protocol, and not officially until the fourth century under Constantine, and even then many of the Byzantine churches did not accept the idea that Jesus was God (other than as an adopted Son, meaning He was not of the essence or substance of God).

        • Freddie Lynch said,

          Actually in the Hebrew Bible, Mary is not portrayed as a “virgin”. It was not until the Bible came to be translated into Greek that the term “parthenos” – i. e., “virgin” – was used to describe Mary. And I seriously hope you’re not using Paul as a basis for any type of argument concerning Christianity.

        • kenn pappas said,

          Paul is the foundation of modern Christianity. More was written about Paul than any other apostle. And … Paul wrote more than any apostle. In fact, it’s doubtful that any disciple wrote anything at all. So why wouldn’t I refer to Paul when discussing Christianity?

        • Freddie Lynch said,

          Paul – rather than Jesus – is the founder of Christianity. [Please note I said Christianity.] Jesus tried to bring the Jews to a greater understanding of God – or so we’re told in the Bible. Paul argued with James and the rest of the leaders of the Jerusalem church – and these other “leaders” had to be the disciples themselves – about this new “god” in whose presence they had been privileged to live for a year. He reminded them of the miracles they had seen and asked them the reason they weren’t out spreading the news and starting a new worship cult about this “god”.

        • Kenn Pappas said,

          It’s arguable whether Paul is right in his interpretation of Jesus’ intentions or how Jesus perceived Himself. Paul wrote his letters no later than a decade before before the gospel of Mark is composed. Mark is already writing under a heavy Pauline influence.

          No doubt Paul and James/Peter conflict, as evidenced in Galatians, but is Paul write in assuming Jesus thought it necessary to campaign to the Gentiles. In Matthew, he tells the disciples to go only through greater Judea when he sends them out on the road. Matthew writes to the Jewish churches. Paul campaigns to the Gentiles. Paul’s claim to the `right’ interpretation of what the `Christ’ is rests on his `road to Damascus’ vision, which is on shaky ground. No doubt Paul’s theology is brilliant in itself; however, that doesn’t make it a well-grounded vision. Paul just might have got it all wrong; he was just a better presenter and more educated than Peter and James.

  98. chaya1957 said,

    Freddie, I believe you said something about Mary getting pregnant via some man her family would not accept, and then to cover this up, came up with the dowry to arrange a marriage with an older man – Joseph. This would not be possible within that culture.

    As far as to her trip to her cousin Elizabeth, I would assume servants or a family member would accompany her, and that visiting relatives was a common occurrence.

    • Freddie Lynch said,

      Yes, but the Bible does not say that Mary was accompanied by anyone so I presume that my scenario would be just as valid as yours. And what does this say about the author of these accounts? If Luke the author was indeed supposed to have talked with Mary herself, I think she would have mentioned this fact, don’t you?

      And the “legend” concerning Mary’s pregnancy has her getting pregnant by a Roman soldier whose last name was Pantera while she lived in Nazareth during the time it was being built. Again, no one knows for sure but it does speak to the fact that as to why Matthew included her in his list of immoral women in the genealogy that is supposed to be Jesus’.

      • chaya1957 said,

        I would assume there are scholarly sources available that would provide more information about the cultural practices of the time that would give some insight. You might find this book interesting: http://www.amazon.com/Poet-Peasant-Through-Eyes-Literary-Cultural/dp/0802819478

        I’ve been both to Ein Kerem, where Hadassah Hospital and the Chagall windows are located and to Nazareth, where I visited the relatives of a friend. It is about 70 miles, and took around 2 1/2 hours to get there back in 1985 prior to the extensive freeway system Israel has today. I understand in ancient times one would travel about 10 miles/day, and so the journey would take a week. Ancient storytellers are not like modern reporters with the need to include every detail, but like midrash, include detail that the author deems relevant. I would make the assumption that Mary also stopped along the way at various villages, and traveled with a companion(s). Young women were very protected in the culture, and I might suppose that accompanying servants wouldn’t be considered necessary to mention. But you can do your own research and let us know what you find.

    • Kenn Pappas said,

      We know so little about Mary. She’s presented as a virgin, but only in Matthew and Luke. She’s not even mentioned in this light in Mark, who was a source for Matthew for Luke. The whole idea that she ran off with a guy named Joseph is suspect. Paul never mentions him. He’s insignificant. Paul also never mentions the virgin birth story. The concept doesn’t exist for Paul. This story is most likely created to substantiate Jesus as `larger than life’ and to give credence to the fulfillment of His coming on the scene as the fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew scours the old testament, Micah 5:2, Isaiah 53, and other passages in order to make Jesus the fulfillment of prophecy, but Isaiah is writing centuries before Jesus, and when he writes about one to come who will be called `Immanuel’ and was `born of a young woman’ or `virgin’, as some translate, it would be a stretch of the imagination to assume he was looking at some movie screen of the future and predicting Jesus.

    • Freddie Lynch said,

      You can’t “have your cake and eat it too”, chaya1957. The Bible is a direct reaction to the Qur’an which is older than the Bible – not the other way around.

      • Kenn Pappas said,

        I think you meant to say the Koran (I prefer `Koran’; I like using the English spelling) is a reaction to the Bible. The Old Testament books were written centuries before the Koran, some as much as 1200 years before the Koran. Isaiah writes in the 8th century (700s BC) and the Koran was written primarily in 5th and 6th centuries AD).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers

%d bloggers like this: