Hopefully just a quickie, might be a bit boring but I have no intention of going to bed yet so here goes. Tonight a friend of mine from the Agape group let me know about a Jesus Q&A that was happening in an instant messaging format. I am astounded by some apologists, both in the way that they think they know something when they’re completely wrong, and that they just read a book by some hack like Lee Strobel and then spout it as fact, without doing any checking.
There were 3 guys (no girls, I suppose that would go against Paul’s teachings) on video, answering questions put forward through the instant chat. When I logged on they were talking about how many copies of the gospels existed in the 1st century and how they match up with modern copies, as if that were relevant. I asked whether written evidence is enough to establish the truth of a miracle claim. There were quite a few questions but I asked it several times and I think they may have avoided it. One of them then claimed I was talking about Christians killing Jews because I said suicide bombers die for their beliefs just as 1st century Christians died for theirs. I thought he was being deliberately obtuse. I didn’t think they were the apologists they’re commanded to be.
Fortunately another one of the commenters took me up on it, and he did a bit of a bad job too, to be honest. He tried to argue that the gospels must be true because the 4 gospel writers all agreed, and because there were hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after he resurrected, and because Jesus fulfilled the OT prophecies. I asked how many of those eyewitnesses he knew the names of, and he said Peter and the gospel writers, as well as the hundreds mentioned by Paul. So that’ll be Peter then. Amazing. I mentioned the other non-canonical gospels that weren’t included, so that there was a publication bias in the Bible, and I also mentioned that only Luke claims to use eyewitness testimony. This apologist then made the laughable claim that Matthew and Mark were Jesus’ disciples, and that they themselves were eyewitnesses. Mark was Peter’s disciple, not Jesus’. “Yes” this guy said, “an eyewitness of an eyewitness” as if he’d got one over on me. Apparently third hand testimony is enough to establish a miracle now.
We briefly mentioned the Old Testament prophecies, he asked if I wanted to see examples, and I said I wasn’t particularly interested because at best it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I said that if you make a load of prophecies you’re bound to get some things right, and that the gospels could have been written with the prophecies in mind to make Jesus fulfil them. The prophecies are also usually very vague and timescales are only applied to them through retrospective interpretation, usually involving codes and the number 7. This was his big example of a prophecy that came true, Isaiah 53. Go ahead and read it. Notice anything? It’s incredibly vague, most if it’s in the past tense so I’m not even sure it counts as a prophecy, the parts that are explicit relate to Christian theology which is based on these prophecies too (Jesus being a sacrificial lamb isn’t something that you get from the gospels but from the later interpretations of them), rather than relating to events. The 4th verse about him being punished by God doesn’t relate to anything I can think of in the gospels, and perhaps most importantly of all it doesn’t say who it’s talking about, or when!
In the last 5 minutes of the session they got into preachy mode about how we don’t live up to God’s moral standard on our own, so of course I mentioned that God’s moral standard is significantly lower than most people’s, and brought up slavery as an example. Tonight was the 2nd time in less than 2 weeks that I’ve been told that slavery was merely a way of having some sort of bankruptcy law, and that slaves had to be released after a period of time. That’s bollocks, those rules only apply to Hebrews and even then you can make a Hebrew a permanent slave by taking his wife and children hostage. God also directly commands the Israelites to take the Midianite virgin women as slaves as plunder from war, for example.
So a good little practice debate. Time for bed, said Zebedee.