Refutation of “Christ Revealed” docu-series Ep. 6
First Interviewee: Randall Price
Randall Price is a theologian, archaeologist, and research author who is founder and President of World of the Bible Ministries Inc. (a Christian Zionist) and has served as Director of Excavations on the Qumran Plateau in Israel (site of the community that preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls). is Distinguished Research Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Judaic Studies at Liberty University. In 2010, he and a rival team went on an expedition to Turkey to find Noah’s Ark, both of them accused each other of fraud and fabrication.
Why even bother? This guy put together a team to find a mythical boat to a mythical event that is physically impossible (both the flood and the boat).
After Randall’s brief background, he shares that he has a collection of 2,800 artifacts that he takes to America to show people that “the faith that they have is based in history, based in context of a real place.”
Islam, one can argue, is “based in history, based in context of a real place.”
Archeologists can find real islands and proof of important people mentioned in Homer’s epic story The Odyssey, as well as thousands and thousands of Greek artifacts from the time around the Odyssey supposedly took place, but does all that mean therefore there were one-eyed giant cyclops’s? No. For that exact reason, even if Randall found 200,000 artifacts from the time period when Jesus supposedly existed, unless one of them direct proves Jesus Christ, then it adds up to nothing and belief in Jesus is based on assumption.
Get back to me when Randall finds any archeological evidence of Jesus Christ himself.
After this, Randall talks about archeology, and interestingly says “pulling objective truth out of the ground.”
Pulling objective truth out of the ground…. too bad creationists will dismiss that mentality whenever a fossil is dug up.
Randall then talks about Qumram, notes that is gets to 130 degrees, it’s barren, yet “people survived there. People trusted God there. It’s where Jesus was tested. Where Moses was tested. David was tested.”
Assuming that since the place exists therefore the characters mentioned exists is a big stretch.
Furthermore, the scholarly consensus on David is that he is a legend. So to say that “David was tested there” makes it sound like David was an actual person, and that’s misleading.
Randall says “My faith is not placed in objects that come from the ground, from archeology, or science, or anything. My faith is placed in the living God.”
Aaaaaaaaaaand there’s the mentality creationists use to deny fossils dug out of the ground.
But right afterward, Randall says “my faith is based on facts. I already had the faith, but now I have the facts that support it.“
Then can we skip to the part already about the “facts” of Jesus!?!?!
Seriously, any religious person can play that game that their faith is based on facts (spoiler alert, faith is not based on facts, otherwise they would not use the word “faith” i.e. belief without evidence). Go listen to a Muslim archeologist or apologist. They can play the same game.
Randall then admits that people come with presuppositions, and interpret evidence differently based on those presuppositions.
Which presupposition is more reasonable: that something is not true until proven true, or believing it’s true and searching for items to prove a belief true.
The answer is the former. Beliefs should be tentative and should change based on the evidence. But having a belief and trying to make items fit that belief is called a bias.
Randall says that we take things on faith like the sun rising in the morning and our cars turning on when we turn it on.
No, we don’t take ANY of those by faith. Why not? Because for one, we can empirically prove the sun and our cars exist. Can we empirically prove God? No. That’s the difference. The sun and our cars are real objects. You do not have to “presuppose” the uniformity of nature to believe the sun will rise the next day. The uniformity of nature is inferred from that fact that we observe it. We infer it from experience. That is post-supposing, not presupposing.
It’s true that the fact that we’ve seen some things behaving uniformly doesn’t prove that they will always behave that way, but if you infer that they will, you are drawing an inference from empirical data, not faith.
Randall says that people may have a presupposition against the supernatural, yet they encounter people who are “walking miracles” because things have happened to them that cannot be explained.
First of all, yes they can be explained.
For one, understand that people are… people. And when people have faith, that’s an important thing to remember regarding miracles. Why? Because people of faith want to believe, and faith demands that they believe regardless what the facts are even if presented to them. Take what happened a few years ago in Fresno, CA were a group of Christians who gathered around a tree outside a hospital. When they prayed while touching the tree, water would sprinkle from the tree and land on them. They took this as a miracle, that they were receiving the tears of God. They took this on faith. Yet when a skeptical investigator took a look, he saw something that is common in trees all across CA to the South. On the trees are little bugs that eat the sap then expel it from their abdomens. In other words, those Christians were literally being pissed on. When the investigator showed the Christians and pointed them to the bugs, did the Christians change their minds? Did they stop believing? Did their beliefs change according to the evidence? Did they feel embarrassed? No. They continued to pray and believe it was a miracle. They chose to deny facts and reality and believe anyway, because that is what faith demands: belief is more important than whether something is true or not. There is a saying in the South, “don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.” In other words, “don’t take me for a fool.” And yet, if a person adopts an epistemology of faith that demands you believe X regardless what the facts are, they can be literally pissed on and will praise it as rain. This is why faith demands we “fool ourselves.”
Second of all, no one has proven “miracles” true. If they could, they would shatter all the academics of physics and chemistry.
Even if they didn’t effect the entire sciences, there’s a million dollars waiting for them. James “the Amazing” Randi, a former Las Vegas illusionist well-versed in the angles used in supernatural pseudoscience, has for 10+ years offered a million-dollar prize for anyone who can show testable evidence of the things we should expect would also be true if there were ethereal entities influencing things with molecular structures. In that time, he has exposed many frauds. But to date, no one has ever produced any actual evidence for faith-healing, telepaths, psionics, precognative psychic friends with astral bodies, past life remembrance, or spectral manifestations of any kind.
Gentempo asks what is the most profound thing Randall has discovered. Randall doesn’t answer at first, but eventually gets to the Dead Sea Scrolls and how they predict the Messiah will come. They were written during the time of Roman occupation and they assumed they were in the End Times. But the part that Randall focuses on as “fascinating” is that the people of Qumran kept cooked meals in pottery (that wasn’t cheap) and sealed wine and were expecting to take part in a large ritualistic ceremony.
Really? He didn’t even try to talk about the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jesus??????
Seriously, so far in this interview, it’s like Revealed Films and Randall don’t give a crap about talking about Jesus or providing anything to prove about Jesus. This seems like one big sales pitch to recruit people into “Biblical” archaeology. Given that the next Interviewee will be focusing on the Magalla Stone, this whole thing really does feel it’s more concerned with a big sales pitch than proving anything about Jesus — which seems to be counter to the title of this docu-series.
When we finally get around to Randall bringing up the “historical Jesus” he mentions that Jesus had a trial by Pontias Pilate, and that archaeologists have discovered inscriptions on stone of Pilate. He also says we have the ossuary (“bone box”) of Joseph Caiaphas. “These are people related to Jesus.”
They may be related to Jesus, but they are not Jesus himself. Myths tend to use real people and real places, I mean they’d have to in order to be taken seriously.
Gentempo asks Randall to talk about how the ossuary validates anything to convince people who are not convinced yet. Randall says “I talk more in terms of plausibility then proof, because you’ll never be able to prove things absolutely.” He says all we know is that Caiaphas was wealthy, had 12 bone boxes for his family, and one of those is Joseph Caiaphas. Randall says the NT mentions Joseph Caiaphas as a “high priest. Josephus also mentions Joseph Caiaphas.
“You’ll never be able to prove things absolutely”…. remember awhile ago Randall said that his faith is based on facts? Well if can’t prove things absolutely, then they cannot be facts.
Randall then says, “So what evidence am I willing to take to validate something in my mind? Well, I already come with the presupposition that we have a historical character named Caiaphas and he was there presiding over the Jewish trial of Jesus and actually organized the plot against Jesus. And these ossuraies, these “bone boxes” have a very narrow lifespan. They started maybe a hundred years before the time of Jesus and just shortly after that. So we have something from the right time, something with the right name, we have something with the right conditions in terms of the nature of this tomb. Why would it not then be plausible that this is thee Joseph Caiaphas that is mentioned in the New Testament?” Randall then says perhaps the reason people would not accept this as evidence because it leads to a historical Jesus.
No one is arguing or doubting the historicity of Joseph Caiaphas, we are arguing and doubting the historicity of Jesus Christ.
If we found a bone box of King Hrothgar from right around the time Beowulf may have lived according to the sagas, does that mean that Beowulf and his band of Geats were real? Would that mean that Grendel was real?
Seriously, it’s like watching Christians playing darts, hitting the Double Ring, and thinking they hit a bulls-eye. Sorry, finding proof of a secondary or thirdly character does not mean you’ve proven the first character. Proving Joseph Caiaphas doesn’t prove Jesus any more than Caiaphas proves the existence of Lazarus.
Later on, after talking about “what is true for you and true in general,” Gentempo asks “so it’s a faulty premise to think that science and faith are mutually exclusive?” Randall answers “science is very much a changing discipline, you can go back 5 years in science and see it’s old hack, we are very different now. The way people operated in the medieval period was barbaric, and maybe people 20 years from now will think things we do are barbaric. Our understanding of astronomy, I mean we just don’t know. Recently we just had an eclipse of the sun here, and you think “the sun is so big and the moon is so small, how in the world does it cover the whole sun?” Well, the sun is 400x larger than the whole Earth, but the moon is 400x closer to the Earth than the Sun is. And that proportion works just right to make a solar eclipse right. It’s not observable everywhere in the universe, but it is here. And for me, someone designed that. That’s not a coincidence, that’s not an accident, it wouldn’t work if it wasn’t just right. So these kinds of evidences that come all the time in the world we live in, from the sciences continue to impress me that my faith is genuine.”
Idiots!!! They’re all idiots!!
There are 9 planets in our solar system, 6 of them have planets with moons that have total solar eclipses. Jupiter has 17 solar eclipses A MONTH. That’s over 200 solar eclipses a year. And given the vastness of the universe, there are likely millions of planets with moons that have solar eclipses.
“the sun is so big and the moon is so small, how in the world does it cover the whole sun?”
(A) The moon’s orbit around the Earth is ELLIPTICAL. Seriously, how does this guy not know that? It’s 2nd grade stuff, maybe 4th. And if you are aware what an ellipsis is, you’d know that it’s not a perfect circle.
(B) Because the moon’s orbit is elliptical, the moon doesn’t cover the whole sun every time there is an eclipse. That’s why they’re called Total Solar Eclipses and Annular Solar Eclipses. One covers the sun, the other doesn’t. Was 2017 the only time in Randall’s life that he saw a solar eclipse?
“the sun is 400x larger than the whole Earth, but the moon is 400x closer to the Earth than the Sun is‘”
Again, the orbit of the moon is ELLIPTICAL. That means the distance from the Earth to the moon can vary by 10%, or over 42,000 kilometers!
Not to mention the EARTH’S orbit around the sun is also ELLIPTICAL. This means that the distance of the Earth varies around the sun, just as the moon’s distance varies around the Earth.
Do the math, and you’ll find that the Earth-Sun distance / Earth-moon distance = ~375-408 Km.
And there you have it, the moon is not 400x closer to the Earth than the Sun is. Those who say it is are just picking a number between 375 and 408 but failing to mention the 33 Km margin. Hell, even the average would be ~391, which is not 400.
Why is this important? In science, language is important and has to be precise as possible. Science helps unlock the mysteries and reveals the facts of the universe, so it’s our job to be as precise as we can. The only ones who don’t care about precision and accuracy are those who believe in prophecies.
Oh, and speaking of prophecies, the sad thing is I’ve heard this “the moon is 400x closer to the Earth” crap used to justify prophecies before…. in the year of 2017 FFS!
plus a series of theists spewing this same stuff all over social media
and now Randall Price
“So these kinds of evidences that come all the time in the world we live in, from the sciences continue to impress me that my faith is genuine”
A 4th grade science education would tell Randall that he should be embarrassed, not impressed.
Maybe even earlier. I remember learning the Earth spins on an axis and orbits the Earth in an ellipsis in the 2nd grade! I can remember which grade I learned that in, because that year I was enrolled at a school where my grandmother taught at (we never had the same class, but she made an excellent tutor). And I remember learning my shapes at an early age. What a square was, what a circle was, what a rhombus was, what a hexagon was… and of course what an ellipsis was. After knowing something like that, you’d think a person would be smart enough to know that the radius distance from the center point to the edges of an ellipsis varies widely all around it. And if a person knows that, you’d think they would be smart enough to not say with a straight face shit like “the sun is 400x larger than the whole Earth, but the moon is 400x closer to the Earth than the Sun is.”
Gentempo then asks Randall about his other expertise, particularly in the Old Testament. Randall talks about it for a bit, and then addresses a common question why would God single out the Jews as his people? Randall says that the Jews were meant to be servants to “bring the message to the rest.” Randall says that “message” is to bless others and bring salvation.
Then why are the 10 Commandments only for the Jews? Yahweh gave those laws to Moses to give to the Israelites. Yahweh didn’t give those tablets to the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Chinese, or the Eskimos. He gave them to the Jews, for the Jews.
So what “message” are the Jews meant to be sharing?….. Randall says it’s meant to bring “salvation” which is just a word that means “conversion.” By this logic, a Muslim can call Jihad a message of “salvation” unto the infidels.
And what are we meant to be “saved” from? A being that created us corruptible, and placed us in an environment where we can be corrupted, and then hold us over a pit of fire for becoming corrupted? This “God” sounds identical to a demon.
Randall then starts to talk about prophecies. He mentions the Old Testament “prophecy” that the seed of Eve will be in conflict with the seed of the serpent. The serpent will “bruise their heel, but will have his head crushed.” There is a prophecy about the seed of Abraham, meaning the Messiah will be Jewish, and there is a tribe of Judah and there will be a king. And from Judah comes a family of David who becomes king, and the seed will come from David’s line. Randall says that the description of the Messiah calls him a “righteous branch,” a “king,” and a “conqueror.” Then the OT talks about a place he will be born: Bethlehem. And the Messiah will rise to be the “King of the Jews,” to which Randall notes that when Jesus was crucified the placard said “Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews.” Randall says “we don’t believe it ends there” and goes on to mention the Resurrection and the promise to return, and “all these things that he laid out in the Old Testament that he would do: he would establish a kingdom, he would rule over Israel and the nations, he would bring peace on Earth, war would end, all kinds of glorious things would happen and that’s what we wait for. So for me, if I connect these dots going down this, shall we say, highway of promises. If you take this by faith, then you can see how this happened. But if we look back on these things, all that have happened, and one person at one time. And now, we say, if it happened literally and it happened precisely as it did then, can I not trust what [God] said? Well yeah.”
“all these things that he laid out in the Old Testament that he would do”
Where does the Old Testament say that the Messiah will get a second chance? Where does it say that he will be resurrected and make a second round to fulfill the prophecies he was supposed to fulfill on his first round?
Getting called “King of the Jews” as a mockery while being executed while never ruling Israel for even a minute isn’t a fulfillment of prophecy.
Randall then brings up the Jews and Jewish persecution during the Holocaust and at the hands of the church. So the last thing they want to hear is that Jesus is the Messiah. Randall says if someone looks “honestly” at the evidence without so much emotional baggage can they “move beyond that.”
As if there is no emotional motive to drive people into a faith like Christianity, enough to make them miss or ignore or deny evidence that contradicts their beliefs.
Then Randall goes on to list artifacts he has that relates to the events in the gospels: spears, money, dice, barbs, etc.
So what? Archaeologists find many artifacts mentioned in Greek mythologies, what does that prove? That Midas had a magic hand that can turn anything into gold?
Randall responds to “what if the average person says so what?” To which he says, “if you bring the document, which we believe is a document given by God, which explains for us, the one who got himself into time to take our form to take our sins, to do an act and now these things are related to that.”
Again, if we applied this same exact logic to ANY religion, you can argue that Krishna is real, or that the Native Americans are really “the lost Jews” according to Mormonism.
These artifacts listed by Randall prove the Romans had spears, gambled, tortured the guilty, and had currency. But does that mean that Jesus was real? No. Learn the difference and understand where history ends and religion begins. The line between the two shifts only when you have historical proof for X, so until Randall finds any historical evidence of Jesus himself, he has nothing to prove regarding his religion.
Gentempo then asks what does Randall experience when it comes to college kids who were raised Christian but then encounter influences in college to rethink their beliefs. Randall answers every generation is difference, such as the children entering college now didn’t live through 9/11. But he says that the next generation is coming into a world that is “Biblically literate” but public schools do not teach that and some purposefully distance themselves from it. So kids are raised in worldview that is formed by their culture. “We here have a Biblical worldview, and of the first courses a student takes is a Biblical worldview to help them understand the various worldviews that exist out there, how this one differs and the significance it brings to orient yourself in a relationship with the living God who made all these things because if you not are apart of that creation, you’re really not right until you are rightly related to the one who made it and sustains it. And you could know that when one personally and be guided by him is an amazing thing. So then you begin to look at all of your sciences and subjects and arts and everything through the lens of that Biblical worldview.”
In other words: we shamelessly ingrain students at Liberty University with a bias.
Here is the Doctrinal Statement of Liberty University:
The fact that Christians cannot see the problem with this is insane.
Can you imagine if a Physics Department made the following statement: “We believe that Newton’s Laws of Motion are inerrant and unchanging. We are committed to further the works of Newton who we believe is the greatest physicist ever.”
That is the antithesis of academic. It basically declares that even if new discoveries, new data, and new models are proven, the Department will deny any of it if it contradicts their Statement.
You might say that statements of Christian faith are acceptable for Christian universities since people apply to be there voluntarily, knowing in advance about the faith statements, so no one is being pressured to agree to something that goes against their intellectual consciences.
But there is, nonetheless, something completely contradictory to the spirit of true inquiry to have college students, in advance of their higher education, commit to believing things on pain of having to leave the school if they stop believing them. How is that open minded? How is that interested in really proving and testing one’s beliefs? That’s saying, “Come here and we will educate you and teach you to think critically. But before we educate you and teach you to think critically, please sign this statement that you will never come to conclusions different than your current beliefs and our beliefs.” To say that to eighteen year olds, who are only just becoming adults and only just having the chance to think outside their parents’ influence, is inherently stifling. It’s contrary to the entire point of education. But Christian universities all around America do this.
And it isn’t just the students, their faculty can be fired if they say or think the wrong things. Teachers have gotten fired from religious schools over a personal Facebook post. Imagine that. These are people hired because they are highly qualified educators in their subjects. But if they say or think something not pre-approved by the school’s religious tenets, they can lose their jobs. Does that sound like what open-mindedness about truth would be? Is that a policy that is going to lead people to correct their mistakes or start challenging discussions that might lead to greater truth?
Randall then says “here we try not to steal faith but to instill faith. I think the statistics are something like more than 80% of kids who were raised, even in a home school, Christian school, good church, lose their faith when they come to college. Because it’s never been their faith, it was their families faith, the churches faith. They’ve never come to a place where they had to grapple with these issues, come to a firm decision for themselves. Tradition will do it–you’ve got to have truth. So they go to a college, and if you don’t give them that, in fact if you hide that or rail against that as many universities do –feeling like we’ve got to keep church and state and everything separate, you know, the worst thing on earth is to be religious.” ——
“you’ve got to have truth. So they go to a college, and if you don’t give them that, in fact if you hide that or rail against that as many universities do”… Randall here is implying that universities hide “truth” from students or rail against “truth.” Bold claim from someone who (1) went to Turkey to look for Noah’s Ark and (2) works at Liberty University.
Pseudoscience and pseudohistory are thoroughly integrated with legitimate courses of study. For example, a course called “History of Life” presenting Young Earth Creationism as fact is required for all undergraduate students. The course is run by the university’s Center for Creation Studies and purports to “draw from science, religion, history, and philosophy in presenting the evidence and arguments for creation and against evolution.” The Center for Creation Studies appears to be a business front for pseudoscientist David DeWitt, whose “History of Life Course ePack” is a required text for the course.
LU is currently ranked 825th in the nation for a medical education and 508th for research. US NEws and World Reports ranks it #80 for the Southern region in 2014. This doesn’t seem bad until you realize the list ends at 93.
It is often hard to find data on the university since it has traditionally been very secretive. However, according to some detailed data in Smartclass rankings it drastically underperforms the average in retention of students (69%), graduation rates (24%), and post graduation salary (bottom 10% of surveyed). Liberty University’s law school ranks among the worst ten in the USA with a quarter of its graduates unemployed. (https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/05/20/where-it-counts-at-liberty-university/)
—— “Well, in a sense, I think religious is a problem, I’d rather have a relationship than be a religious person.” Gentempo asks “what is that distinction?” Randall answers, “A religion is my attempt to please God, to find who he is and in some way find what he wants, and to hopefully do something that will help me. A relationship is where God took the first step and he came to me. He revealed himself and he said “I love you.” I responded to that love and invitation, and as a result a relationship is formed.”
Religion and “relationship with God” is the same damn thing.
Christians go to churches. Why do you need to go to a church if God is with you? To go to a house of worship is what religions demand.
Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter. Those are religious holidays. Why celebrate a religious holiday if you are not religious?
Christians read the Bible, which is a religious holy book.
Christians pray, which is a religious ritual.
Christians get baptized, another religious ritual.
Christianity is not a “relationship,” it’s a religion. Anyone who says otherwise is either stupid or a liar.
Furthermore, a God who threatens heaven or hell based on acceptance of dogma basically does not have a healthy relationship with humans. The threats and incentives would just gather humans that lived in fear or wanted to gain a reward from God – rather like the calculated self interest of Pascal’s wager. A superior relationship would be one based on respect, not force.
- “A perfect god would understand that a meaningful relationship is impossible with the constant threat of a dire ultimatum. An ancient barbaric culture, however, would have no such qualms. ” – Darkmatter2525
The concept of salvation has been compared to a protection racket:
- “I walk into a bar with a shotgun, and I go up to the manager and say ‘you got a nice place here, it’d be a same if something happened to it, but I’ll tell you what, you give me $50 a week and you will be ok, nothings going to happen to it’ Is that fair? Is that just? [Caller saying no.] So essentially God is coming down and saying ‘heck of a life you got there, be a shame if you had to burn in hell for all eternity, isn’t it? But I’ll tell you what, I got my son here, you believe in him, you will be alright’. If it was not fair with the bar tender, why is it fair with God and Jesus?“
Such an unjust god would be unworthy of worship.
Second Interviewee: Father Kelly
The Interview takes place in a tour of the Magdala chapel that is built like a synagogue “where Jesus would’ve walked” along his disciples and fishermen. Kelly shows the murals, the architecture, the ritual baths, and more. Eventually they get to the Magdala Stone (a replica).
Can we get to the evidence that proves Jesus was there please???
Gentempo then asks “there’s almost do doubt that Jesus preached here?” to which Father Kelly answers, “Pat, you’d have to be an academic acrobat to bring about arguments to prove that Jesus was not in this synagogue.”
Really, because in this entire tour, Father Kelly never once presented evidence that he was in that synagogue. No carpentry work crafted by Jesus the Carpenter; no manuscripts written by him; no artifact with his face on it; no primary source (friend or foe) that witnessed him; not even an graffiti inscription on the wall with Jesus’ name on it.
The other argument that Kelly presents to make his case that Jesus was at that synagogue was because it is 1) the mid-way point Jesus would have to stop at between Nazareth and Copernium 2) there is a port nearby that makes it easier to travel around the lake instead of walking around it and 3) the fact that this is a fishermens town and the story that Jesus was with fishermen fits. “So sociologically and geographically, we are in a place that fits the picture.”
You could make the same argument for Odysseus by showing the islands and places he traveled to, point out that the stories match the towns he visited, and conclude “the picture fits” ergo Odysseus was real and so was the giant one-eyed cyclops’s, gods, nymphs and sirens he encountered.
Just because the earliest Christians worshiped in a synagogue that is in a convenient location doesn’t mean the mystery cult’s “sōtēr” or “savior” was real. When examining the religion closely, you’d have to be an “academic acrobat” to deny that Christianity started as a mystery cult. More on that in the next interview with Greg Koukl.
Third Interview: Greg Koukl
Here we go again.
After cutting into where the last interview left off with Koukl playing word games to make the students at a university feel “guilty” about themselves then sell them the snake-oil that is Christianity, Koukl goes on to say his next talk was about how Jesus is real, and the next regarding Jesus being the only way to salvation. He says each time there was a full house, and he credited it to “the power of the Word of God.”
It’s easy to tell students that they are bad people and they need help rather than Koukl telling them what Koukl’s God is offering them: a threat.
Koukl calls it a “rescue”….. which is as twisted as claiming that Jigsaw offers a “rescue” after holding us over a large pit of fire he made.
Koukl claims “relativism is false. Everybody knows that. That’s why they complain about the problem of evil. Because if they were deeply rooted into relativism, they wouldn’t complain about evil.” Koukl goes on to say that the Problem of Evil favors his beliefs, and uses it to prove his case that there is a God because it validates his beliefs.
Evidently Up is Down in Koukl’s little world. The Problem of Evil against the existence of God does not only include human choices and activity, it also includes “Natural Evils” like diseases, hurricanes, forest fires, tsunamis, and more. The reason why: an omnibenevolent God would not create a world with natural evils; a perfect God would not create an imperfect world.
Koukl is heavily endorsing “objective morality” because people complain about the Problem of Evil. Well, what does “objective morality” solve?
Even in the Bible, “objective morality” does not solve anything. In fact, the Bible gives us a large open display that Christian objective morality is an absolute joke. Think about it: If God was absolutely moral, because morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?
Gentempo then asks Koukl to share the hardest arguments against Christianity that he managed to work through. Koukl touches back on the Problem of Evil, and eventually gets to Jesus being a “singular solution to a singular problem.”
Again, there are different types of evil that the Problem of Evil encompasses. If Jesus was meant to be the “solution” to natural evils, there wouldn’t be any more earthquakes or hurricanes.
Koukl then touches on “religious pluralism” — there are many religions, they are all equal, and lead toward God. Koukl notes that Christianity, Judaism and Islam all teach that God is personal, but Hinduism doesn’t teach that God is personal but a “all-pervading force.” Koukl says “God cannot be personal and impersonal at the same time.”
Can’t be two different things at the same time…. yet Koukl believes that God can be transparent and omnipresent at the same time. (“omnipresent” is defined as “the state of being simultaneously present in all locations.”)
The Transcendence vs. Omiprensence Argument
P1: If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e. outside of space and time)
P2: If God exists, then he is omnipresent
P3: To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space
P4: To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space
P5: Hence, it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresent (from 3 and 4).
C: Therefore it is impossible for god to exist (from 1, 2, and 5).
Syllogistically, the argument can be stated as:
P1: God is both non-physical and omnipresent (as defined above).
P2: As a non-physical being, God necessarily possesses no physical properties
P3: Location is a physical property
C1: Therefore, necessarily, God cannot have the property of location
C2: Therefore, necessarily, God is not omnipresent
C3: C2 contradicts P1
C4: Therefore, an omnipresent, non-physical God cannot exist
Koukl also believes that God can be omniscient and omnipotent. Can an omnipotent being change it’s omniscient mind? In not, then it’s not omnipotent. If it can, then it’s not omniscient.
Or what about a God that is both omnibenevolent (perfect goodness) and omnipotent? I think that if god is omnipotent, then he must be capable of doing evil. And if he actually never does do any evil, the fact that he is potential of doing great evil means that he is not perfectly good. However, if he is not capable of doing evil, then he is not omnipotent. Some may say that God is good by nature and therefore it would be logically contradictory for him to do something evil and the inability to do something logically contradictory acts does not count against an entities own omnipotence. But it seems to that in order to be meaningfully omnipotent, one must have a nature that does not constrain the kinds of acts it is logically possible for one to perform. If being omnipotent means only being able to do things that are not logically contrary to one’s nature, then I am omnipotent. I can do anything that is not logically contrary to me as a mortal finite material being. But of course I do not believe that I am omnipotent. I am not omnipotent precisely because it is my nature constrains that is logically possible for me to be able to do. It is my nature that renders me non-omnipotent. So in order for a being to be omnipotent, that being would have to have a nature that does not logically constrain it’s capabilities. If God cannot do evil because he is good by nature, then his nature constrains his capabilities and he is therefore no omnipotent. But if God could do evil things, then God is potentially evil and if a being is potentially evil then they cannot be perfectly good even if it never does anything evil.
Another attribute of God that does not make any sense to me is the claim that God is spaceless and timeless. To say that God can exist spacelessly and timelessly seems to be the same as saying God can exist nowhere and never. If God created space-time of his own free will, then he must be capable of existing in the absence of space-time. That makes no sense to me. I don’t know what it means for something to exist in the absence of space-time, or at the very least some kind of an extension through some kind of dimension. But I am especially confused when by the idea that a conscious mind can exist without space-time. A conscious mind is always in motion, it’s always in flux. I don’t know how something that is completely static can be considered a conscious mind. Consciousness is a process, it’s an event. If God is timeless and some would also say changeless, then I don’t know what it would mean for a god to have a conscious mind. A changeless conscious mind is inconceivable to me. William Lane Craig said that matter and energy cannot exist timelessly like God can because matter and energy are never quiescent, matter and energy never stop changing and therefore they cannot be timeless. But as Theoretical Bullshit pointed out, a conscious mind is never quiescent either, and I cannot conceive of a conscious mind that is quiescent, that seems like a contradiction to me. I see no conceptual difference between a quiescent mind and a unconscious one. If the fact that matter and energy are never quiescent, that means that matter and energy cannot be timeless, then a conscious mind also cannot be timeless.
Koukl then provides his argument against “religious pluralism” is that they have “contradictory claims about reality” therefore they can’t all be true. Koukl admits they can all be false, but drives home the point that they can’t all be true. Koukl argues that since all religions cannot be right at the same time, religious pluralism defeats itself.
A rare instance where I have to agree with Koukl.
Koukl says all the other religious have “the problem” but Jesus didn’t. Koukl says Jesus solved “the problem” because Jesus wasn’t a sinner under judgment and but he could take the judgment.
Look at what Koukl just did: he assumed Christianity was true, he assumed that there was a “God” and that God was the Christian god who imposes “judgment of sin” upon humans… and the only “religious leader” who takes care of sin is Jesus.
How does he not see the problem with this?
Its like saying “no other religious leader took care of the Thetan problem other than Ron L. Hubbard, therefore all the other religious can’t be true.” Well of course no other religion is going to address the “Thetan” problem, because Scientology invented that problem. Likewise, no other religion is going to address the “sin” problem because sin is an invention of the Abrahamic faiths. Judging all the world’s religions through the presuppositional lens that “sin” is real, you’re basically formulating a biased argument that sets up any non-Abrahamic faith to fail from the get-go. An Eastern religious person could play that game by pointing out that the Abrahamic faiths don’t address or take care of the “karma” problem, therefore the Abrahamic faiths can’t be true.
This is a common tactic I’ve seen with Christian apologists when they confront other religions. My readers have seen this pop up time and time again in my blogs debunking Ray Comfort. All the apologists start with the presupposition that “Sin” is real, and since the other religions don’t address it or provide a solution for “sin” therefore they are wrong from the start.
Sorry, the appropriate mindset to start with is “is sin even real?” To date, there is no sound argument for sin. Sin is a presumed “curse” all humans have because a pair of humans (who did not historically exist) in a fairy tale disobeyed the “creator” and thus all their descendants were cursed, which explains why bad things happen to us. Is it because of sin, or perhaps it’s because of “Thetans,” or maybe it’s bad karma from our previous lives….. or maybe it’s just that bad things just happen, and all religions are piggy-backing on this to formulate a sales-pitch to sell us a “solution” to ensnare us into their faiths?
When Gentempo asks “what about people never exposed to Christianity” and is it arrogant to spread Christianity to them as the one true religion? Koukl says every religion has that problem since everyone believes their religion to be the one true religion. So how would Koukl approach the group of people who were never exposed to Christianity. Koukl says “I believe God judges people according to the revelation that they have. They can’t be held responsible for information that was never given them.”
The Koukl contradicts himself, because apparently EVERYONE has enough relevant information, therefore Christians should stick their noses in everything. Koukl says, “but there is a catch to this point, and that is the story makes it clear–and by story I mean the story of reality that the Bible gives us–the story makes it clear that every single person who is reasonably developed intellectually (and I don’t mean smart people, I mean if you’re not a baby or you’re not mentally handicapped), every single person is in possession of information about the truth about God such that they can be held responsible for that. And that information is two-fold: information inside of them and information out there in the world that they can see. Maybe they don’t know about Jesus, they may not know about the Son, but they do know about the Father whose presence is everywhere. So on the one hand, God will judge them according to the light that they have been given, but everyone has been given enough light to be considered guilty before God.“
What an asshole.
First of all, this is all projecting an assumption that there is “information” within and external to prove anything. Just stating that people possess some vague “inner knowledge” that some mystical deity is real isn’t an argument, it’s a plea without evidence. In Islam there is the Primordial Covenant, in which it claims that before you existed Allah created your soul. Before your soul entered Earth, you vowed to Allah that he is the one true God, and when you die and return you cannot claim ignorance or “excuse” yourself by claiming that you were raised by the wrong faith by your parents. Hard to argue that you don’t exist, so Islam has backed you into a corner and claimed you are without excuse to deny Allah.
Second of all, the argument that “everyone can tell by the information around them tells them there is a god” does not imply any particular religion or God. It also does not rule out polytheism or pantheism.
Third, even if we accepted this as true, God’s an asshole. Picture a baby child is adopted and raised by a foster family. That baby will grow up, and the child obviously knows it has parents. But then the real father appears and confronts the teenager in a park, announces “Luke, I am your father” and then punishes the kid with a whip and chokes him for not believing him.
Saying we have a “light in us” is vague and means nothing. Even if we assume this means “knowledge” is it knowledge or is it human psychological projection to personify everything? Why do you think that the Greeks thought lightning was shot from the sky from a humanoid immortal being? Because the human mind projects, and Koukl is hijacking this natural human condition to argue that his particular God is real.
Ever heard the argument that “if a dog had a god, it would be a dog”?
Imagine flipping this apologetics from humans to elephants. If elephants projected themselves unto their environment, they could be persuaded into thinking that the world could’ve been made an an elephant god.
Gentempo then makes the comment: “in the absence of choice, there is no ethics.”
Really? Does the Christian God have a choice even though he is omnipotent? Can God choose to allow sinners who reject Jesus to go to Heaven? Or does he have no choice?
Frankly, if the absence of choice means there’s no ethics, I ask: then why did the Christian God not take away our choices so we are only limited to do good? After all, God determines what is good, so even if we are robots with no choice of our own, so long as we are going good, what’s the problem?
Koukl response to Gentempo right after Gentempo notes that a shark that attacks a human is not unethical, to which Koukl agrees and notes that “humans are special in this regard, clearly they apply to us and nothing else in the created realm. I know of some Darwinists who want to argue differently, it’s kind of a different issue, but certainly objective morality is not something that other creatures are aware of. And even the Darwinists, all they can produce in Darwinism is just another form of subjective moralities, but that’s another issue.”
Objective morality proposed by Christians is itself a form of subjective morality. If the Bible offered any objective morality, then the Christian denominations wouldn’t be literally divided on a myriad of things from abortions to slavery.
Even if we stick to the morality as portrayed in the Bible, it’s clear as the nose on your face that there is no objective morality proposed within it’s pages.
Koukl goes back to addressing the earlier topic. Gone over Jesus being the “only way” and religious pluralism doesn’t work, Koukl then says “another big thing is Jesus himself.” This is where Koukl addresses the perspective that Jesus did not exist or was a real man (a preacher) but none of the miracles attributed to him were real (possibly a re-write of the dying-then-rising savior myths similar to other mystery cults across the world). Koukl says “in regards to the idea that Jesus never existed, and he is just a fabrication of these ancient myths, there is no credential historian in the world that believes this.”—
This coming from the guy who embraces Intelligent Design creationism and rejects the discoveries of physicists who embrace the universe can come from nothing.
“I mean you might find an outlier, you can always find someone to say something that’s odd. They don’t believe this, and the reason why they don’t believe this is because they are working with bonafide primary-sourced historical documents about the life of Jesus of Nazareth.“
Primary sources are written by eyewitnesses. Every credible historian acknowledges and agrees that the gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. So why do historians continue to accept the possibility that there was a Jesus, at least a preacher who started a new faith only to have miracles added to his story later in life? For one, they are merely assuming there was one. If they stuck to their historical methods, they wouldn’t. Yet they do, perhaps because they themselves are Christians, perhaps they would lose their jobs or have their reputations attacked if they came out as doubters,
The Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John are NOT primary sources, by definition. None of them were written by eyewitnesses, which makes them by default not primary sources. They’re not even secondary sources, as put by scholar Bart Ehrman, the gospels writers are guys who heard the story from someone who heard the story from someone who heard the story from someone.
“in addition to those documents we call Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and some of the things Saul of Tarsus wrote and some of the others–James, who knew Jesus–New Testament documents (which people need to remember are not just part of the Bible, these were separate documents that were circulating in the 1st century. It wasn’t until the 4th and 5th century they were bound together in a book called the Codex). So you can’t just say “well, that’s the Bible,” these were the sources that historians use and they take them seriously because they are good sources.”
Historians take those sources because they are the only sources we have despite them being non-primary sources. As to why historians embrace them like primary sources despite being non-primary sources spouting a bunch of hearsay tells me that they either want the story to be true or they suck at being historians.
“But there are also something like 17 or 18 extra-Biblical references to Jesus that give us substantive information that corroborate with what we find in the more detail narratives of Jesus’ life. So when you look at this particular challenge, in a tactic I like to call “Just the facts man,” okay alright, I get what you’re saying: Do the facts support that claim? And the answer is No.”
Do you have the facts of 17 to 18 extra-Biblical references to Jesus?
Koukl says he does…. so let’s take a look.
The only extra-Biblical sources hyped by Christians and apologists are Josephus, Tacticus, Pliny the Younger, Seutonius, Lucien, and Phelegon.
Are they reliable contemporary sources, and if so do they mention Jesus and provide us with anything valuable? Let’s take a look at the details…
Josephus Flavius, the Jewish historian, lived as the earliest non-Christian who mentions a Jesus. Although many scholars think that Josephus’ short accounts of Jesus (in Antiquities) came from interpolations perpetrated by a later Church father (most likely, Eusebius of Caesarea), Josephus’ birth in 37 C.E., well after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus, puts him out of range of an eyewitness account. Moreover, he wrote Antiquities in 93 C.E., after the first gospels got written! Therefore, even if his accounts about Jesus came from his hand, his information could only serve as hearsay.
At first glance, Josephus appears to be the answer to the Christian apologist’s dreams. He was a messianic Jew, not a Christian, so he could not accused of bias. He did not spend a lot of time or space on his report of Jesus, showing that he was merely reporting facts, not spouting propaganda like the Gospel writers. Although he was born in 37 C.E. and could not have been a contemporary of Jesus, he lived close enough to the time to be considered a valuable second-hand source. Josephus was highly respected and much-quoted Roman historian. He died sometime after the year 100. His two major tomes were the Antiquities of the Jews and the Wars of the Jews.
Antiquities of the Jews were written sometime after the year 90 C.E. It begins, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and arduously parallels the Old Testament up to the time when Josephus is able to add equally tedious historical of Jewish life during the early Roman period. In Book 18, Chapter 3, this paragraph is encountered (Whiston’s translation):
“Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the[ Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal man amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.”
This truly appears to give historical confirmation for the existence of Jesus. But is it authentic? Most scholars, including most fundamentalist scholars, admit that at least some parts of this paragraph cannot be authentic. Many are convinced that the entire paragraph is a forgery, an interpolation inserted by Christians at a later time. There are at least seven reasons for this:
1) The paragraph is absent from early copies of the works of Josephus. For example, it does not appear in Origen’s second century version of Josephus, in Origen Contra Celsum, where Origen fiercely defended Christianity against the heretical views of Celsus. Origen quoted freely from Josephus to prove his points, but never once used this paragraph, which would have been the ultimate ace up his sleeve.
In fact, the Josephus paragraph about Jesus does not appear at all until the beginning of the fourth century, at the time of Constantine. Bishop Eusebius, a close ally of the emperor, was instrumental in crystallizing and defining the version of Christianity that was to become orthodox, and he is the first person known to have quoted this paragraph of Josephus. Eusebius once wrote that it was permissible “medicine” for historians to create fictions—prompting historian Jacob Burckhardt to call Eusebius “the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity.”
2) The fact that the Josephus-Jesus paragraph shows up at this point in history—at a time when interpolations and revisions were quite common and when the emperor was eager to demolish Gnostic Christianity and replace it with literalistic Christianity—makes the passage quite dubious. Many scholars believe the Eusebius was the forger and the interpolater of the paragraph on Jesus that magically appears in the works of Josephus after more than two centuries.
3) Josephus would not have called Jesus “the Christ” or “the truth.” Whoever wrote these phrases was a believing Christian. Josephus was a messianic Jew, and if he truly believed Jesus was the long-awaited messiah (Christ), he certainly would have given more than a passing reference to him. Josephus never converted to Christianity. Origen reported that Josephus was “not believing in Jesus as Christ.”
4) The passage is out of context. Book 18 (“Containing the interval of 32 years from the banishment of Archelus to the departure from Babylon”) starts with the Roman taxation under Cyrenius in 6 C.E. and talks about various Jewish sects at the time, including the Essenes and a sect of Judas the Galilean, to which he devotes three times more space than to Jesus. He discuss Herod’s building of various cities, the succession of priests and procurators, and so on. Chapter 3 starts with sedition against Pilate, who planned to slaughter all the Jews but changed his mind. Pilate then used sacred money to supply water to Jerusalem. The Jews protested. Pilate sent spies into Jewish ranks with concealed weapons, and there was a great massacre. Then in the middle of all these troubles comes the curiously quiet paragraph about Jesus, followed immediately by: “And about the same time another terrible misfortune confounded the Jews…” Josephus, an orthodox Jew, would not have thought the Christian story to be “another terrible misfortune.” If he truly thought Jesus was “the Christ,” this would have been a glorious story of victory. It is only a Christian (someone like Eusebius) who might have considered Jesus to be a Jewish tragedy. Paragraph three can be lifted out of the text with no damage to the chapter. In fact, it flows better without it.
The phrase “to this day” shows that this is a later interpolation. There was no “tribe of Christians” during Josephus’ time. Christianity did not get off the ground until the second century.
5) Josephus appears not to know anything else about the Jesus outside of this tiny paragraph and an indirect reference concerning James, the “brother of Jesus” (see below). He does not refer to the gospels not known as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, or to the writing or activities of Paul, though if these stories were in circulation at that time he ought to have known about them and used them as sources. Like the writings of Paul, Josephus’ account is silent about the teachings or miracle of Jesus, although he reports the antics of other prophets in great detail. He makes no mention of the earthquake or eclipse at the crucifixion, which would have been universally known in that area if they had truly happened. He adds nothing to the Gospels narratives, and says nothing that would not have been believed by Christians already, whether in the first or fourth century. In all of Josephus’ voluminous works, there is not a single reference to Christianity anywhere outside of this tiny paragraph. He relates much more about John the Baptist than about Jesus. He lists the activities of many other self-proclaimed messiahs, including Judas of Galilee, Theudas the magician and the Egyptian Jew Messiah, but is mute about the life of one whom he claims (if he wrote it) is the answer to his messianic hopes.
6) The paragraph mentions that the “divine prophets” foretold the life of Jesus, but Josephus neglects to mention who these prophets were or what they said. In no other place does Josephus connect any Hebrew prediction with the life of Jesus. If Jesus truly had been the fulfillment of divine prophecy, as Christians believe (and Josephus was made to say), he would have been the one learned enough to document it.
7) The hyperbolic language of the paragraph is uncharacteristic of a careful historian: “…as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him…” This sounds more like sectarian propaganda—in other words, more like the New Testament—than objective reporting. It is very unlike Josephus.
Julius Africanas / Thallus. In the ninth century a Byzantine writer named George Syncellus quoted a third-century Christian historian names Julius Africanus, who quoted an unknown writer named Thallus on the darkness at the crucifixion: “Thallus in the third book of his history calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun, but in my opinion he is wrong.” All of the works of Africanus are lost, so there is no way to confirm the quote or to examine its context. We have no idea who Thallus was, or when he wrote. Eusebius (fourth century) mentions a history of Thallus in three books ending about 112 C.E. so the suggestion is that Thallus might have been a near contemporary of Jesus. (Actually, the manuscript is damaged, and “Thallus” is merely a guess from “_allos Samaritanos.” That word “allos” actually means “other” in Greek, so it may have been simply saying “the other Samaritan.”) There is no historical evidence of an eclipse during the time Jesus was supposedly crucified. The reason Africanus doubted the eclipse is because Easter happens near the full moon, a solar eclipse would have been impossible at that time. (Even ancient skeptics knew that full moon occurs when it is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, where it is unable to move between the sun and the earth to produce an eclipse.)
Mara Bar-Serapion (circa 73 C.E.). There is a fragment of a personal letter from a Syria named Mara Bar-Serapion to his son in prison that mentions that the Jews of that time had killed their “wise king.” However, the New Testament reports that the Romans,, not the Jews, killed Jesus. The Jews had killed other leaders; for example, the Essene Teacher of Righteousness. If this truly is a report of a historical event rather than the passing on of folklore, it could have been a reference to someone else. It does not mention Jesus by name. It is worthless as evidence for Jesus of Nazareth, yet it can be found on the lists of some Christian scholars as proof that Jesus existed.
Phlegon, was a Greek writer who lived in the 2nd century AD. So already he’s not a contemporary witness… but it gets worse then that. We don’t have the word of Phlegon mentioning Jesus, rather we have the word of another guy who says Phlegon mentioning Jesus. It’s hearsay of hearsay. Who’s the guy? It’s Origen of Alexandria (182-254 CE). In Against Celsus (Book II, Chap. XIV), Origen wrote that Phlegon, in his “Chronicles”, mentions Jesus.
Pliny the Younger, a Roman official, was born in 62 C.E. His letter about the Christians only shows that he got his information from Christian believers themselves. Regardless, his birth date puts him out of the range of eyewitness accounts.
He said “Christians were singing a hymn to Christ as to a god…” That’s it. In all of Pliny’s writings, we find one small tangential reference, and not even to Christ, but to Christians. Again, notice, the absence of the name Jesus. This could have referred to any of the other “Christs” who were being followed by Jew who thought they had found the messiah. Pliny’s report hardly counts as history since he is only relaying what other people believed. Even if this sentence referred to a group of followers of Jesus, no one denies that Christianity was in existence at that time. Pliny, at the very most, might be useful in documenting the religion, but not the historic Jesus.
Note that Pliny is relaying what those arrested said they believed (and there is no reference here to a ‘Jesus.’)
“In fact, the similarities that are claimed Jesus and these ancient myths of Osiris and Mithras, etc. etc. there is almost no similarity between the life of Jesus and these ancient mythologies. These myths have been trumped up radically on the Internet, and what happens is that these stories keep going around in a circle.” Koukl says he had another talk in front of students in Perdu, and a group of atheists with their atheist T-shirts asked their questions, and when one asked about Jesus being a rehash of these other myths, Koukl’s answer was “you’ve been spending too much time on the Internet.” Koukl says these stories connecting Jesus to other myths goes back to the Golden Bough and now these stories are circulating all the time. Koukl says if you go back to the original documents of what these ancient myths claimed, you will not see any similarity between them and Jesus.
This is the one time I agree TO A DEGREE with Koukl. Yes, there are some exaggerations floating around the Internet, and as a Mythicist with a BA degree in History, it irritates me to death to see these floating around the Internet, because whenever they are used and disproven so easily, it makes people take the Mythicisst position less seriously. This is why modern historians and scholars don’t hear too much about Mythicism anymore, because these bad arguments were refuted a long time ago. But that was then, the modern versions of Mythicism are grounded in extensive historical research. So when historians hear someone mention Mythicism, they often think “is this that stuff that was already examined a long time ago?” That’s the impression I as a Mythicist want to avoid and have a serious evidence-based discussion on the historicity of Jesus.
As a historian, I expect historians to live up to the standards of proof we’ve been instructed to uphold. Yet when it comes to the gospels, they suddenly accept hearsay accounts as on-par with primary sources–and it seems ONLY the gospels get this special kind of treatment. Makes one wonder why….
Anyway, Koukl is not 100% right with this remark in this scene. Let me explain why. Since he mentioned Osirius and Mithras, let’s focus on those two.
I want to make this clear: Christianity isn’t Osiris or Mithras Cult 2.0. So of course there are going to be differences between Osiris and Jesus. But the difference in Osiris’s and Jesus’ stories are not the point. It’s the structure of how the faith formed. What a lot of people, esp. on the Internet, fail to grasp is that Jesus is a mystery cult, just as Osiris started as a mystery cult. And the concept and structure of these mystery cults is where the similarities (and influences) take place, and this is key. The argument ‘it was different from x, therefore it wasn’t influenced by x’ is fallacious to the point of ridiculous.
If we define a mystery religion as any Hellenistic cult in which individual salvation was procured by a ritual initiation into a set of ‘mysteries’, the knowledge of which and participation in which were key to ensuring a blessed eternal life, then Christianity was demonstrably a mystery religion beyond any doubt. If we then expand that definition to include a set of specific features held in common by all other mystery religions of the early Roman era, then Christianity becomes even more demonstrably a mystery religion, so much so, in fact, that it’s impossible to deny it was deliberately constructed as such.
Even the earliest discernible form of Christianity emulates numerous cultic features and concepts that were so unique to the Hellenistic mystery cults that it is statistically beyond any reasonable possibility that they all found their way into Christianity by mere coincidence.
All mystery religions centered on a central savior deity (literally called the sōtēr, ‘the savior’, which is essentially the meaning of the word ‘Jesus’, always a son of god (or occasionally a daughter of god), who underwent some sort of suffering (enduring some sort of trial or ordeal) by which they procured salvation for all who participate in their cult (their deed of torment having given them dominion over death). These deaths or trials were literally called a ‘passion’ (patheōn, lit. ‘sufferings’), exactly as in Christianity. (For Christianity: Heb. 2.10; 9.26; Phil. 3.10; 2 Cor. 1.5; Mk 8.31; etc. For other mystery cults see, e.g., Herodotus, Histories 2.171.1 (on the mysteries of Osiris); Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris (= Moralia) 17.357f, 20.358f (on Osiris and others); Euripides, Bacchae 492, 500, 786, 801, 1377 (on the Bacchic mysteries)). Sometimes this ‘passion’ was an actual death and resurrection (Osiris); sometimes it was some kind of terrible labor defeating the forces of death (Mithras), or variations thereof. All mystery religions had an initiation ritual in which the congregant symbolically reenacts what the god endured (like Christian baptism: Rom. 6.3-4; Col. 2.12), thus sharing in the salvation the god had achieved (Gal. 3.27; 1 Cor. 12.13), and all involve a ritual meal that unites initiated members in communion with one another and their god (1 Cor. 11.23-28). All of these features are fundamental to Christianity, yet equally fundamental to all the mystery cults that were extremely popular in the very era that Christianity arose. The coincidence of all of these features together lining up this way is simply too improbable to propose as just an accident.
Sources: Kennedy, St. Paul and the Mystery-Religions, pp. 229-55 (baptism as a universal ritual in the mystery cults), pp. 256-79 (sacred meals). Recent scholarship confirms the basic picture.
On the Mithraic mysteries: Manfred Clauss, The Roman Cult of Mithras: The God and his Mysteries (New York: Routledge, 2000), cf. esp. pp. 14-15 (with 174 n. 30) and 108-13 on the features it shares with other mystery cults (including the ritual of symbolically emulating the god’s labors to achieve personal salvation in the hereafter, and the ritual of sharing a sacred meal with other initiates); see also Marvin Meyer, ‘The Mithras Liturgy’, in The Historical Jesus in Context (ed. Levine, Allison and Crossan), pp. 179-92; Gary Lease, ‘Mithraism and Christianity: Borrowings and Transformations’, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II. 23.2 (New York: W. de Gruyter, 1980), pp. 1306-32 (1309 for the generic features Christianity shares with all mystery cults; the specific influence of Mithraism on early Christianity is unlikely, however— they instead arose around the same time, in a parallel phenomenon of creating mystery cults from major ethnic cults, Persian in the one case, Jewish in the other— they are therefore separate instances of the same phenomenon); Roger Beck, Beck on Mithraism (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004); and Roger Beck, The Religion of the Mithras Cult in the Roman Empire: Mysteries of the Unconquered Sun (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), the latter works correcting or superseding David Ulansey’s The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); see also Richard Gordon, Image and Value in the Graeco-Roman World: Studies in Mithraism and Religious Art (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1996).
On Isis– Osiris cult: Malcolm Drew Donalson, The Cult of Isis in the Roman Empire: Isis Invicta (Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 2003); Sarolta Takacs, Isis and Sarapis in the Roman World (Leiden: Brill, 1995); Reinhold Merkelbach, Isis Regina, Zeus Sarapis: Die griechisch-ägyptische Religion nach den Quellen dargestellt (Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner, 1995); Sharon Kelly Heyob, The Cult of Isis among Women in the Graeco-Roman World (Leiden: Brill, 1975); and Robert Wild, Water in the Cultic Worship of Isis and Sarapis (Leiden: Brill, 1981).
Koukl then goes on to say that he believes in an inerrant Bible, but notes that the first Christians did not have a complete Bible. Rather they went around telling people about Jesus, telling people that there were many witnesses and many people have their lives transformed, they went to to their deaths yet did not recant, and skeptics like James and Paul were convinced.
“Rather they went around telling people about Jesus“… in other words, using the Oral Tradition. For at least 45 years until the gospel of Mark was written. And as historians know, in an Oral Tradition, stories always change. Ever played the Telephone Game? If so, then you know. Now imagine playing that game for 45 years (or, if you want to be conservative, say 20 years) until finally the story gets recorded.
In an Oral Tradition, details get mixed up; new invented stories seep in; stories get taken out; names and dates get switched; lots of things happen.
“telling people that there were many witnesses“…. allegedly, a dozen witnesses…. which Paul tells us were “tripping” on a regular basis. Paul was not the only one having visions, he lists many believers hallucinating in Acts.
- Acts 7, Stephen hallucinated Jesus floating up in the sky, but no one else there sees it.
- Acts 9, Paul hallucinates a booming voice and a beaming light from heaven (and suffers hysterical blindness as a result)
- Ananias hallucinates an entire conversation with God.
- Acts 10, Cornelius hallucinates a conversation with an angel, and Peter falls into a trance and hallucinates an entire cosmic dinner scene in the sky.
- Acts 27, Paul hallucinates a conversation with an angel.
Many Christians receive spirit communications (‘prophesy’), as indicated in Acts 19.6 and 21.9-10. Paul says (meaning the apostles), ‘God revealed [the secrets of the gospel] through the Spirit’ (1 Cor. 2.10). Likewise, in Rom. 12.6, Paul says Christians in all congregations ‘have gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us; if it be prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith’ (and Paul indicates that these prophets were communicating with spirits, which were under the prophet’s control: 1 Cor. 14.19-32).
Paul notes that he and the Christian community were “tripping” on regular occasions and receiving visions. 1 Corinthians 14, Paul sets rules to prevent a problem arising in the church of so many people describing their hallucinations and spirit communications and speaking in tongues that they were talking over one another (on hallucinations in particular: 1 Cor. 14.26, 30).
In 1 Cor. 12.28, Paul ranks the members of the church in order of authority: “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
So what we have is the word of a guy, his mates, and whole congregations that all engage in hallucinations and visions… and Christian apologists would have us believe they are reliable and trustworthy sources.
“they went to to their deaths yet did not recant” where’s the historical evidence of this?
The only martyrdoms recorded in the New Testament are, first, the stoning of Stephen in the Book of Acts. But Stephen was not a witness. He was a later convert. So if he died for anything, he died for hearsay alone. But even in Acts the story has it that he was not killed for what he believed, but for some trumped up false charge, and by a mob, whom he could not have escaped even if he had recanted. So his death does not prove anything in that respect. Moreover, in his last breaths, we are told, he says nothing about dying for any belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus, but mentions only his belief that Jesus was the messiah, and was at that moment in heaven. And then he sees Jesus–yet no one else does, so this was clearly a vision, not a physical appearance, and there is no good reason to believe earlier appearances were any different.
The second and only other “martyr” recorded in Acts is the execution of the Apostle James, but we are not told anything about why he was killed or whether recanting would have saved him, or what he thought he died for. In fact, we have one independent account in the Jewish history of Josephus, of the stoning of a certain “James the brother of Jesus” in 62 A.D., possibly but not necessarily the very same James, and in that account he is stoned for breaking the Jewish law, which recanting would not escape.
So James may have been arrested for breaking a Jewish law, but other than that we have no idea. So how do we know James or Stephen were arrested for their beliefs? How do we know they were tortured? And if they were tortured, how do we know that maybe they did recant, only to have the anonymous gospel authors 50-60 years later write stories that “re-wrote” history by asserting that they all “kept the faith” while being tortured?
Paul is believed to have been killed sometime before the end of Nero’s reign in 68 CE. Dionysius’s letter mentioning Peter and Pauls martyrdom was written about 100 years after the end of Nero’s reign. Tertillian’s source was written in 200 CE.
See the problem here? Even if we agree that Paul and Peter were executed, how can we know they were martyred for their faith? How do we know they never broke faith? For all we know, all of the so-called martyrs dropped their faiths in prison, only for Christian followers generations later re-write history and hype-up the deaths of the first believers.
“skeptics like James and Paul were convinced“…. where they?
First of all, which James are we talking about? The entirety of Luke– Acts mentions only two men by the name of James, yet identifies neither as the brother of Jesus. To the contrary, it specifically distinguishes both of them from his brothers (Acts 1.13-14). One of them is indeed one of the three pillars named by Paul (Peter, James and John: Gal. 2.9, in light of Mark 3.16-17; 5.37; 9.2; 14.33; Luke. 5.10; 8.51; 9.28; etc.)
As for Paul, he didn’t see a earthly Jesus or a Resurrection. He only had a vision, which he credits as being Jesus. But what exactly does he tell us what he saw (or didn’t see)?
So some decades after 1 Corinthians, the author of Acts tells us that Paul saw a light that blinded him and heard a voice (Acts 9:3-7, 22:6-9, 26:13-15) whereas in Acts 9:7 the men with Paul are said to hear the voice, but see no one: “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” In Acts 22:9 the claim is made that those accompanying Paul “saw the light, but did not hear the voice.” In Acts 26:13-14 Paul is quoted as saying that all those present saw the light, but mentions that he alone heard a voice. The light, it is claimed, blinds Paul. However, no one else but he is said to have been effected by the light. So what we have here is a contradiction among other witnesses, and a man (Paul) who had a seizure and heard a voice, but saw no form because he was blinded.
In 1 Corinthians 12:5-8, the verb ophthe simply expresses Paul’s claim that Jesus “appeared” too them. The use of ophthe within the context of Paul’s statement is significant. Paul’s use of ophthe in expressing both his own visionary experience and those allegedly seen by the disciples is significant because his supposed encounters with the risen Jesus are never with a tangible form. In claiming the same experience for himself as experienced by the disciples, Paul is relating that “what was seen” by the disciples is also a visionary experience devoid of any physical component.
In Acts 22:17-18 it is said that Paul “saw” (idein) Jesus while in a “trance” (ekstasei) in the Temple. The word ekstasei is a combination of stasis, “standing,” and ek, “out.” It suggests the idea of standing out of oneself, that is, the nature of a trance. In this description, Paul uses a different verb for seeing the apparition then he uses when describing the experiences of the disciples.
For his and the disciples’ experience, Paul used the word ophthe (“appeared to“). Yet, when he described his vision while in a trance in the Temple he used the word idein (“saw“). “Have I not seen [heoraka] Jesus our Lord?” Paul asks rhetorically in 1 Corinthians 9:1.
In summary, according to Paul, both his experience and that of the disciples were respectively not with a material bodily form. So according to Paul himself, did Jesus really rise from the dead? Or, as Richard Carrier noted here, perhaps Paul and the disciples believed that Jesus was not a historical person but a celestial being like an archangel.
Gentempo then notes that skeptics question the dates the gospels were written, to which Koukl says there has been a “significant shift” by scholars to go from late-tendencies to date the gospels to date them within the late 1st century and early 2nd century. The reasons, according to Koukl talking to scholars, why they late-dated the gospels was a “high christology” in the gospels — that is he may have been a guy who preached, got arrested then killed, only to later on have a people add many tall tales to his story later on. “That’s mythology, and mythology takes time to develop.” Koukl says the historians were “assuming” Jesus wasn’t miraculous so they late-dated it. Gentempo says “so it’s a confirmation bias” to which Koukl says “exactly right.”
Time to develop? The earliest gospel, Mark, best estimates was written 45 years after the supposed death of Jesus. If 45 years doesn’t sound long enough for a mythology to develop, consider what Herodotus reported on the Persian Wars 50 years after the war. And what did Herodotus report? That an entire town witnessed a mass ressurection of cooked fish; a horse gave birth to a rabbit; the Temple of Delphi magically protected itself; a burnt olive branch grew back an arm’s length the next day; and more.
Funny how Koukl can mock historians for having a confirmation bias about dating the Gospels, but hide behind historians using a confirmation bias to accept hearsay accounts as credible to prove Jesus.
Koukl then brings up Paul, and arguing that Paul’s wrote his material in the 50’s and since Jesus died in the 33 CE, Paul was writing within 20 years of the events.
What flies over Koukl’s head is that Paul never met Jesus in his life. Paul even admits that.
And given that Paul’s letters leave out virtual everything in Jesus’ life except the “Resurrection and Ascension” what we can determine from what Paul reveals to us is that YES Jesus was conjured as a spiritual being, not a historical being. And when this occurs with any religion, we call that Mythology.
But Koukl says that in the 50’s, Paul launches Romans, which says “[Jesus] was declared with power to be the Son of God according to the Resurrection.” This, Koukl argues, is high christology in the 50’s so “we have good reason to believe this didn’t develop through mythology.”
Koukl gets too excited for someone who likely believed Jesus wasn’t historical at all, but rather a completely spiritual being like the archangel Michael.
Next Koukl says the gospels are reliable because they contain stories that are embarrassing. “They looked pretty stupid, pretty dumb, pretty unethical at many points (“lets call fire down from Heaven and destroy them” in James and John). Women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb — why is that significant, because they didn’t trust women back then. So if you are going to write a story, you want people to believe, but if it is false you don’t make women the first testifiers to the risen Christ, that’s dumb.” After that, Gentempo makes a few notes, one of which was that the writers back then “weren’t being cunning, they were being reporters.”
The writers were not being cunning? Look again at the stories?
1) Fire from the sky won’t sell? Ugh… hello!?! These are the Jews were talking about here, the same people who praise God for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah! The same God who reigned fire and hail upon the Egyptians!
2) Women weren’t trusted…… this dead horse has been kicked way past the beaten-to-a-meatball stage and into glue.
For one, women were the largest target for conversion for early Christians, so they had to make it appealing to women. **In the next episode in the last interview, they talk about how Jesus was so nice to women whereas the Greeks not-so-much, so of course the new Christian religion is going to appeal to women.
“The Gospels are not court documents. They are, at best (in the case of Luke), histories. Not the same thing. And when it came to this context, of using women as sources for historical claims, there is no evidence of distrust—any more for women than for men of comparable status or condition. Josephus, for example, has his entire account of the heroic sacrifices at Gamala and Masada from no other source than two women in each case—yet shows no embarrassment at this. Josephus often forgets to tell us who his sources were for a particular story, yet here he goes out of his way to report his only sources were women. That makes no sense, unless Josephus regarded his sources as quite respectable, and therefore actually worth mentioning, which is quite the opposite of a woman’s testimony being an embarrassment.” – (Richard Carrier, https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/improbable/women.html)
Koukl continues to add more to prove Gentempo’s point that the authors were not being cunning. Koukl mentions the Roman soldiers hitting Jesus and then asking “who struck you?” At first this may seem odd to the reader who would expect the answer to be “you did” but the later accounts says Jesus was blindfolded. Koukl says that these later accounts that make the odd stories make sense in all argues against he “fabrication thesis.”
What about the “oh-shit-better-correct-that-mistake thesis”?
So, Koukl argues, Matthew forgot to mention the blindfold. But Luke knew of it. Therefore, these two authors are independently corroborating each other!? Loki on drugs!
Of course, even if we granted the facts Koukl presents, no blindfold was needed for the soldiers to challenge Jesus to miraculously know the names of the men hitting him. Luke thus could well have simply added a blindfold to make the story sound more amazing, or because he thought it made a better story, or he simply just assumed Jesus must have been blindfolded—all commonly established causes of embellishments to stories as they are transmitted and retold. The fact that Koukl doesn’t know that stories routinely get embellished in exactly this way pretty much disqualifies him. (Likewise if he couldn’t even think that guessing the soldiers’ names was challenging enough without a blindfold.)
Koukl then addresses the objection “oh well but these scholars have a bias, and that’s why they put it–well Christians have a bias too. They believed in Jesus so they tried to put an account forward to make Jesus look good and make Christianity look good, so they had a bias. To this I say, yes, I understand the point you’re making and I guess the Christian did have a bias–if what you mean is a worldview. But there are two types of biases: there is a bias that is bias to distort and there is a bias in which you have a point of view in which there is no evidence of distortion. Okay, I imagine that Kobe Bryant’s mom thinks he a pretty good basketball player. And you can say “well, she’s biased” yet she also happens to be right. She has a point of view, but that doesn’t mean that she is false under her assessment. Now in case of the scholars now, we see it is pretty obvious that they are late-dating because they’re committed to a late party Jesus before they look at the evidence. That sounds suspiciously like a bias to distort.“
What about Christian historians bias to ignore that the gospels are all hearsay, and historians tend to have a rule to dismiss hearsay accounts, yet they use them as evidence to prove Jesus?
Koukl then addresses the first Christians and asks if they had a bias to distort. We’re they lying? “Well, the rule about lying is this: if you want to tell a lie, you tell a lie that benefits you, not a lie that gets you beaten, stoned, whipped, and crucified upside down.” Koukl says that the earliest Christians could have said it was a lie, but they went to their deaths claiming Jesus had risen and is God.
The earliest Christians were not martyrs.
As for getting crucified upside down, the only account of this happening to Peter comes 200 years AFTER Peter was executed.
Plus, if lying means self-preservation, then does that mean all the Muslim suicide bombers were not lying when they proclaimed that their martyrdom’s will send them to Paradise with virgins waiting for them?
Koukl asks “where is the bias to distort” regarding these martyrdom stories?
Where is the proof these events mentioned in the gospels happened at all?!
The gospel authors are basically the writers of their own press release for the whole 1st century. And by the time secular sources catch wind of their stories (written decades after all the important events), they only know enough to just share “hey, these guys are Christians and this is what they believe.” That’s it. There are no other contemporary independent non-Christian un-biased sources anywhere in the 1st century to collaborate what really happened. So how do we know the whole gospel story itself isn’t a distortion / made-up mystery cult? We can’t know.
Koukl says if there is evidence of distortion, then there is no reason to impugn their character on this account.
We have evidences of stories fabricated and inserted in the Bible. That alone is evidence of distortion existing in the Bible, and having examples of distortion existing in the Bible leaves us with excellent reason to doubt it’s stories until positive evidence is presented.
Koukl then goes off on a video he saw on YouTube that said there is no evidence of purpose in the empty vastness of the universe. Koukl notes that there might be tiny bits of teleological arguments (this thing designed a certain way) that can be made, “but it strikes me that just the ability to look around to see if there is evidence of purpose is itself an example of teleology and purpose. Who does that? Only people who have this capability to see purpose are those who are made to see purpose, there is a purpose built into that.” Gentempo then says “the person who is making the assertion has a purpose in doing so.” Koukl then says “if there wasn’t any purpose, you wouldn’t have the machinery to look for it. And like you said, dogs don’t do that.” Gentempo says that is what distinguishes humans from other animals we can “choose a purpose.” Koukl says you might have small meaning without God, but you can’t have the big meaning without God.
Wrapping it up, Koukl says a few minor things…. then he gets to more evidence of the Bible, and that leads to the Exodus. “One of the difficulties with the Old Testament in particular and history and archaeology is that there didn’t seem to be much evidence for this massive event called the Exodus that really took place. You’d think they would’ve left footsteps in history like that in the sand, so to speak. Well, it turns out that–I can’t give you the particular date, I can’t remember–but it turns out that they were looking in the wrong time period. If you shift things over to another time period–there is a reason why they did that. They made a mistake, it seems possibly they did–you shift to a different time period, all of a sudden… ALL these things come together, and there is a tremendous amount of evidence. And when I saw that, I thought that’s pretty cool. That was like bonus material, added benefit no extra charge kind of thing.” Koukl goes on to talk about other people experiencing miracles, and as expected: he gives no examples.
Since the last decade of the twentieth century there is a growing consensus in modern scholarship at the major elements of the Exodus tale (the Israelites living in Egypt for 430 years, the exodus of this large group out of Egypt to Canaan, and the intervening forty years of wandering in the Sinai Peninsula) are also myths, not history. Let us review the evidence. The existence of Moses, the main protagonist of the Exodus account, as a historical person is not proven either way, but certainly many elements are legendary. The story of Moses’ birth, his escape from harm by being put in a papyrus basket and left to drift on the river before being discovered (Exodus 2:2-10) parallels closely the nativity story of the legendary Akkadian king Sargon, who was placed inside a basket to escape dire circumstances and left to drift on the river before being rescued by someone. The general flow of cultural influence and the antiquity of the Akkadian legend make it seem likely that the Genesis account is based on the Akkadian legend.
Other details add to our doubt regarding the historicity of the story. We have at least three names for Moses’s father-in-law—Reuel (Exodus 2:18), Jethro (Exodus 3:1), and Hobab (Numbers 10:29; Judges 4:11). Even the name “Moses” itself was originally Egyptian, not Hebrew.
The date of the Exodus is also plagued with uncertainty. According to 1 Kings 6:1, the Exodus happened 480 years before Solomon built the temple. This places the even somewhere around 1495-1440 BCE. Yet the Israelites were forced to build the cities of Pithom and Ramses, according to Exodus 1:8-11. Now, there are only two possible pharaohs who might have had a role to play in the building of the city of Ramses, since a city with that name could not have been built by anyone else but by the pharaoh whose name it reflects, and both of them reigned too late for biblical chronology to be accurate. The first Egyptian pharaoh named Ramses came to power in 1320 BCE. This is a century from Egyptian sources that a city called Pi-Ramses was built under a pharaoh named Ramses II, who reigned over Egypt from 1279-1213 BCE. But the story of Israelite slaves building Pi-Ramses could only have happened during his reign—more than two hundred years after the time calculated by the biblical chronology. Any attempt to equate the Hyksos—a line of Semitic kings who ruled Egypt from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries BCE—with the Israelites fail, too. For the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt into Canaan by Pharoah Amose around 1570 BCE, which is too early for any of the biblical chronology to work. It’s simply more probable that the violent expulsion of the Hyksos became embedded in the folktales of the Canaanite people, which forms the basis for the oral tales that eventually became the Exodus narrative. But the main details of the Exodus (Moses, the forty-year trek in Sinai, and the locations the Israelites went through) must all be pieces of historical fiction.
Now, according to Exodus 12:40, the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years. Yet for all this time, there is simply no literary and archaeological evidence outside the Hebrew Bible that records the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt. A similar problem exists with the number of people claimed to have left Egypt. According to Exodus 12:37, there were six hundred thousand men, not counting the women and children, who left with Moses. We are also told this one-million-plus nation wandered for forty years in the wilderness in Sinai (Joshua 5:6). Surely more than a million people wandering around for forty years would have left some traces for archaeologists to find. Yet not a single piece of archaeological evidence has been found. This is not for want of trying, either.
William Denver, an archaeologists normally associated with the more conservative end of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, has labeled the question of the historicity of Exodus “dead.” Israeli archaeologist Ze,ev Herzog, provides the current consensus view on the historicity of the Exodus: “The Israelites were never in Egypt. They never came from abroad. This whole chain is broken. It is not a historical one. It is a later legendary reconstruction—made in the seventh century [BCE]—of a history that never happened.”
To recap, Koukl says no credible historians (with a few minor exceptions) doubt the historicity of Jesus, yet his interview reveals to us that historians and scholars can have biases (ex. dating methods) and get things completely wrong (regarding the Exodus, but in this case it’s Koukl who is dead wrong). So if historians can be biases and be wrong, could it be likely they are wrong about Jesus? If so, perhaps the proper thing to do is examine the evidence directly that Koukl says historians rely on. And as you can see above, all the evidence that historians rely on prove nothing. Strange, it’s almost like they missed all that and made a mistake, or perhaps they have a bias.
Koukl of all people should realize this, since he stick his fingers up to the scientific community regarding biology and cosmology. And since I understand this, I always examine the evidence and not fall back on “the entire scientific census overwhelmingly thinks otherwise.” And when I look at the evidence presented by the Intelligent Design crowd, it’s not even remotely scientific from the get-go. It’s a lot of “looks designed, I can’t explain it therefore evolution can’t explain it.” Wrong. Evolutionary biology via natural selection has already been demonstrated to create everything presented by the Intelligent Design crowd, especially their flag-ship the bacterial flagellum (well, nowadays it seems the ID crowd are distancing themselves from that one because 1) it’s been debunked into oblivion and 2) if they are right, that would mean their omnibenevolent God is responsible for creating deadly diseases — and theists can’t have their loving god be the ultimate bio-terorist)