September 28, 2009

Answering “Who Cares” on Biblical Reliability, Authenticity, and Veracity

Posted in Answering "Who Cares", Atheism, The Bible tagged , , , , , at 11:40 am by Andrew

In the comments section, “Who Cares” raises a number of issues related to the basic notion of whether we can “trust” the Bible. I think it’s worth unpacking some of those assumptions:

But, just touching on your point a) About the no agreement on any singular form of the bible. I mean, first, many people have many translations of works of Shakespeare, the Odyssey and the Iliad, and any non-english originated text we have, and the translations of those text into english, or some other language. And you assume we cannot agree on any of those text?

Here, “Who Cares” is eliding together three common atheist arguments that are, in fact, logically distinct. The first is the question of reliability; that is, how confident are we that what appears in our Bibles is a reliable transmission of what appeared in the original manuscripts. If the Gospel According to Mark we use today differs materially from the earliest circulating Gospel of Mark, for example, we would have questions about the reliability of our copy of Mark.

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April 13, 2009

Zalmoxis, Jesus, and James McGrath

Posted in Atheism, The Bible tagged , , , , , at 5:05 pm by Andrew

In the comment section of a previous thread, there’s a bit of a discussion about the parallels (or lack thereof) between the Zalmoxis religion in ancient Thrace and the Jesus story.

Nathaniel argues, in part, that:

According to Herodotus, when Zalmoxis reappeared, nobody thought he had risen from the dead, since it was explained that he had just been hiding. According to the gospels, everyone who came to believe that Jesus was alive realized that this meant he had risen from the dead.

In a coincidence of timing, religion professor (and Christian) James McGrath has an excellent post up at his blog entitled “Celebrating Easter with the Doubting Disciples, detailing just who “came to believe that Jesus was alive,” even assuming that the Biblical accounts record actual events. The money quote:

Be that as it may, the point remains that Easter is not about historical certainty. In Matthew, it even explicitly includes doubt. And by making the day a day for celebrating certainty, we risk losing one of the most important steps that may help us to experience the “resurrection power” that drove early Christianity and has continued to transform lives down the ages.

February 23, 2009

Reppert and MN, part 2

Posted in Answering Apologists, Atheism, The Bible, Worldview tagged , , , , at 11:00 am by Andrew

Victor Reppert responds to my argument that the atheist historian’s application of methodological naturalism is not morally equivalent to the Christian apologist who’s a Biblical inerrantist. I think he correctly points out an overstatement on my part, but I think the bulk of my argument still stands. Then, there’s an interesting digression on evolution that I’ll tackle in another post.

First, the mea culpa:
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February 21, 2009

Victor Reppert and Methodological Naturalism

Posted in Answering Apologists, Atheism, The Bible, Worldview tagged , , , , , at 3:36 pm by Andrew

One of my favorite Christian bloggers, Victor Reppert, has responded to one of my comments on his blog. He has a longer post up that’s definitely worth reading. His argument is that the Christian apologist who has a preexisting commitment to Biblical inerrancy is morally equivalent to the atheist debater with a preexisting commitment to methodological naturalism. I think he’s wrong, and here’s why:

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