Independence Anyone?

When making an argument for Jesus’ reported miracles and resurrection the first place most people will turn is the Gospel accounts.  These documents contain the majority of information we have on the person of Jesus though certain details can be found elsewhere.  Often when citing the Gospel accounts the skeptic may object to their use for verification of Jesus and His ministry.  The claim is that in order to be a valid citation for the person of Jesus, it must come from outside the Bible in order to be possibly credible.  The Bible is biased and therefore we must use independent sources which are untainted by religious motivation in order to get–if possible–accurate accounts of Jesus’ reported miracles and resurrection.  Is the skeptic right, is it valid or reasonable to require only independent source material outside the New Testament (NT) when considering whether Jesus performed miracles or rose from the dead? 

I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding in this demand for independent material.  By preferring “independent” materials over the NT sources mistakes what the Bible itself actually is.  The Bible is merely a collection of independent sources.  There is a tendency to look at the Bible as a single work because it is now under one cover.  Skeptics–and many people really–act as if Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts and the rest of the NT epistles are chapters in the same book.  The books in the Bible are in fact independent accounts and individual letters which were later compiled under one cover a few centuries after their authorship and distribution.  There was no NT in the first century.  We only had the individual Gospel accounts and the separate letters which were circulating throughout the area.  It is therefore a mistake to separate the NT from other sources for the accounts of Jesus’ ministry and resurrection.

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Related Article: Put Your Hands Up!, Experiment In The Reliability Of The Gospels

Comments

  1. Yes, I agree that the Bible is, technically, a collection of independent sources. However, simply because they were written independently does not mean that they are without bias – which I believe to be the real issue. The accounts in the Bible all fit to serve a particular agenda, namely the deification of Jesus (who may or may not have actually existed). Evidence of this can extrapolated from the exclusion of other works written by the supposed disciples, not the least of which being the Gospel of Thomas.

    The demand for independent, external corroborations must have the stipulation that it is unbiased.

    • I urge you to read the related article: Put your hands up. It’s not a question of bias per se. It’s whether the bias was before or after the event recorded and whether the bias interferes with accuracy. Bias does not necessitate inaccuracy. After all, naturalists are biased towards believing Darwinian Evolution, does it then follow that atheist naturalist boilogists will inaccurately report their studies in favor of their bias, or should we evaluate the evidence itself?

      Of course upon having an experience you believe was Jesus resurrected of course you would be biased towards believing it. But is a bias enough to disqualify testimony? If that is true then we could never convict anyone based on testimony of the victim since they are biased in believing who they saw rob/rape/assault them. If we are restricted to only accepting records from people who didn’t believe the event in question actually happened, where would that leave us?

      I find that skeptics will consider a source unbiased only if it does not contain supernatural events. But that is precisely what we are investigating. How can we attempt to determine if a supernatural event took place if we reject every record of a supernatural event for bias? It’s an arbitrary tautology.

  2. I actually find objection to nearly every statement made by yourself as well as what was said in the blog post you provided. I shall provide a story of my own:

    Say, one day, I decided to declare myself God. I am able to employ a devastating use of rhetoric and am able to convince 10 of my closest friends – my friends can even attest to me performing things that seem impossible (I urge you to youtube Derren Brown – Religious Conversions, really Derren Brown in general, as he constantly states that he merely uses psychological and mental tricks – usually by disrupting unconscious behavioral patterns). Soon, my friends, surely excited to be friends with God incarnate, start telling their own friends and my following grows. Eventually, I start gaining the attention of local news coverage. Of course, the rationality of the general masses will eventually win over and my new “religion” will die out (although, that’s not exactly what happened in the case of Joseph Smith). But wait, these people really believed. I must be God!

    Clearly, you can see the faulty logic in this. Simply because people attest to me being a deity does not make it so. Of course bias influences people’s writings; regardless of whether they truly believe it or not, they are not impartial and will always skew information to further their own bias. In the case of the robbery, the witnesses have nothing to gain by telling the truth. The accounts of the Bible have everything to gain! Furthermore, it is quite convenient that the only apparent evidence for the existence of Jesus is found in the New Testament. One would think that a man that caused the Jews and Romans to delve into a simultaneous conniption is worthy of note, especially considering that the early years of the Roman Republic is one of the most written about from the perspective of historians that lived at the time.

    Secondly, I must take a *serious* objection to your insinuation the bias in the scientific community, as if it were just one big conspiracy. The reason why Darwinian evolution by way of natural selection is abundantly accepted within the scientific community is for the sheer amount of evidence that lends itself towards the validity of the theory. Also, scientific evidence is incessantly peer-reviewed within the scientific community to ensure that scientists do not try to propagate evidence that is not true.

    On the remark of of the resurrection (or for any of the miracles, for that matter) I believe David Hume put it best (note I do not remember the exact quote): What is more probable? That the laws of nature have been suspended in your favor or that you are mistaken?

    On your final remark, I’m not sure to what self-professed skeptics you talk to, but the ones that I know would all agree with me in saying that we don’t care if there are sources that contain supernatural events – as long as those supernatural events are sufficiently corroborated. I’ll grant you miracles! Virgin birth – parthenogenesis is not completely without validiy. Resurrection – well, given the banality of resurrection at the time, I hardly think it should qualify as evidence for a deity (Matthew 27). So, even if we were to grant you all the miracles (which is still a bit odd that no other historian apart from those in the N.T. would report them) that still does not offer proof that Jesus was God.

    • Well, to start, lets make it a true analogy. Your friends did not believe you were God while you were alive. Then you were publicly executed, then after being buried, you rose from the dead, at which time they then concluded you were God.

      What did the earliest disciples have to gain? They certainly weren’t 20th century millionaire televangelists! Their lives were ruined. They were even killed for their beliefs. They made no money, had no power, and gathered no harem. So what was it they gained for their claim that Jesus was raised from the dead?

      Whether you believe the scientific community has impecable integrity is not the issue, its bias and what you claim bias leads to. If bias inevitably leads to corruption then you must admit that the scientists submitting their work for peer review are prone to fudge the data. Additionally the peer reviewers also must be biased and thus continue the cover up by passing the work through as valid. Why does bias only corrupt religious claims, but not scientific claims? You wouldnt know if you were being lied to, since you trust those who would be lying. Top that off with your own bias which would also lead to you lying to me in order to propigate your naturalistic beliefs. You see what happens when you make a claim that bias = corruption?

      Hume and other skeptics tend to only consider naturalistic background information. See, probability is directly related to background info. Given a particular instance of a miracle all you consider is what happens given a naturalistic worldview, of course anything is more probable than a miracle. However the NT authors and theists aren’t positing Jesus rose naturally, but rather God was involved. Considering that God exists, that Jesus claimed to be God, that Jesus predicted His resurrection, and that God was involved in the process, we get an entirely different probability than if we claim it happened to a random body by natural means.

      • I have to ask if you can honestly say there is this big conspiracy within the scientific community? Do you truly believe that these scientists are fudging data because they refuse to believe in an anthropomorphic godhead? Why is it so easy for you to accept the corruption amongst scholars and yet religion is, as it always is, infallible? Do you think there is a conspiracy to other aspects of science? What about quantum mechanics? What about relativity? After all relativity is merely a theory…

        The disciples martyrdom and suffering is not proof that Jesus was God either. I’m sure you would agree that not all gods that are currently preached are real. Yet, Muslims believe wholly in their sacred text, with more fervor I might add. I don’t think you seem to be grasping that simply because someone said that another person was God it does not make it so.

        Again, I must assert that Hume’s statement still stands. Yes, Jesus said he would rise again, but then again, so did a lot of other people at the time. Did the prophets see the resurrection? Is it not more probable if Jesus had existed that because his body was missing that the prophets merely assumed that he was resurrected, or had suffered a case of Lazarus syndrome. The mind is a fickle and capricious thing and is prone to error (on that note, you didn’t check out Derren Brown did you?).

        • It’s not about whether I think there is a conspiracy. I am showing you the consequences of your assertion that “Of course bias influences people’s writings; regardless of whether they truly believe it or not, they are not impartial and will always skew information to further their own bias.”. If it influences religious writing, then certainly “bias” doesn’t know the difference between religious analysis and scientific analysis. Bias isn’t an outsider evaluating the subject matter and saying to itself “oh, wait, this is a science thing, I’ll step back and allow complete objectivity”, no, if bias influences people’s writings whether they know it or not, and will always skew information, then it applies to evolutionary biologists and yourself. I can assume that the information you provide as a rejoinder to anything I write as biased, influenced and your information is skewed.

          I know this will sound condescending, but I truly don’t mean it to be, but I don’t know another way to say it. I never said the disciples dying is proof Jesus was God, please pay attention. Don’t introduce an argument I never made in order to refute it. Read: Its to die for for what the disciples dying proves, and make an argument there.

          A mistake or “lost body” does not account for all the evidence. The disciples didn’t believe Jesus was resurrected because the body went missing. You are offering, yet again, a strawman.

  3. If we would accept all historical accounts of supernatural as true. Then the NT would be just one among many eyewitness stories. There are many that are actually more reliable in terms of historical research like the deeds of Egyptian pharaos, who were selfproclaimed sons of gods and performed miracles, that were commonly believed in their time and historically recorded. It is only wether we choose to believe the harvest of the Nile was dependant on the rituals and miracles the pharaos performed or not, that stands between us thinking them as deities or not. The NT is in no way different from several accounts of UFO sightings. They are also recorded by different people who seem to have nothing to gain from being public of their “visions”.

    Principle of science is to evaluate what is more likely, not to prove a predecided “truth”, so scientific research is in no way comparable with religious thinking. Religion starts from a preset assumption. For example the writers of the gospels were expecting a messiah to fullfill the religious expectations of jewish religion, so they assessed the events in that light. It was with a clearly biased mind they did this. Darwin never intented to attack religion or religious worldwiev, he was a godfearing man of his age, it came as more or less of a surprice to him, that the church felt threatened by the findings of his scientific work. He was biased only to explain gods miracles.

    • Not all claims to supernatural events have equal historical reliability. Each claim has to be evaluated on its own merits.

      Science by definition seeks NOT the best possible explanation given the evidence. Science seeks the best NATURALISTIC explanation. Scientific investigations do start with the preset assumption of naturalism.

      The writers of the Gospels were not expecting the a suffering and dying Messiah, which is why the disciples fled and hid after Jesus was crucified. They were expecting a conquering Messiah who would over throw the Roman oppressive government. Additionally, the Jews expectation of resurrection was not a present event, it was expected for the end of time, a resurrection of all the dead at the end of the world; and given their expectation they were not prepared for Jesus to be resurrected. Jesus dying and resurrecting was completely contrary to all Jewish expectations.

      • Well the NT is by no means most reliable historical source of supernatural events. So, do you believe the pharaos of Egypt were sons of gods? If not, is your reasoning based on naturalistic knowledge, or do you have higher understanding?

        Yes, science uses naturalistic means to find out the most likely explanation to everything that can be scietifically measured. It is typical to human behaviour to name things that can not be explained as supernatural. There are so many things that used to have a “supernatural” explanation, but have since been explained by naturalistic means of science. Do you think the stars will fall on Earth on doomsday? Even faraway galaxies consisting millions of stars such as our sun? Is earth flat or is it round? Are humans related to apes? The answer to this question should be naturalistic. This all leads to the most likely philosophical conclusion, that eventually there is a naturalistic reason to everything even if we can not explain it yet. In fact most “miracles” of the NT can be explained allready today by naturalistic means of science. For example the so called resurrection of Jesus is not that magnificent miracle if you consider the facts told of his untimely taking down from the cross in the gospels. It was of course explained in “supernatural” terms in those days, but even the executioners might have been a bit skeptic, since they must have known these “resurrections” happened from time to time. Otherwise they would not have had instructions to brake the kneecaps of the crusified men when they were taken down. But as the gospels tell, this was not done to Jesus who did not hang on the cross even for a whole day, when usually the method of execution would last for several days. It is the same as Jesus would have been sentenced to be executed whith an electric chair and only given the police taser shock. Today no-one would think that as a miracle, unless strongly religiously biased. But if the cult would live on maybe in a couple of hundred years when the taser will be abandoned from use the story would gain more believers.

        It does not really matter if the gospels are eyewitness accounts or not. Even in the case they are, they are only subjective explanations of the events by the followers of Jesus. They may be historically “accurate”, but the believability of the supernatural explanation of the events they offer us, is still left only on the faith of each and every one that reads them. They do not have more value than an UFO sighting. Do you believe in UFO:s? If not, why is that? Why would you be ready to believe some fishermen and shephards during the early Roman empire and not your own countrymen of today?

  4. I would buy this independent sources thing better if the authors of the various books hadn’t read the earlier ones first. It’s not surprising to find that OT prophecies are “fulfilled” in the NT with almost exactly the same words — they were written by people who had studied the Torah and knew what its prophecies were. The majority of biblical scholars believe that Matthew and Luke were based on Mark. And so on. They should maybe be treated as a little more independent than chapters in the same book, but to consider them wholly independent sources with no common agenda or shared knowledge/beliefs seems to me to be very unrealistic.

    • If they are reporting on the same events it is not unreasonable that they contain the same subject matter. Even if Matthew and Luke used Mark as a reference, they are still independent accounts. Pieces of similarity does not discount independent work any more than reference books today cite other previous works discount their independence. If the events happened and Matthew and Luke remember the events as recorded by Mark and so included marks account in their own, it doesn’t discount Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts.

      Also knowing the contents of the OT doesn’t mean the events or prophesies reported to be fulfilled didn’t happen. Do you know the story of “Fitility, or The Wreck of the Titan“? It is a fictional story very similar to the Titanic, right down to the name. The book was written 14 years before the Titanic and the events in the book contain striking similarities. We cannot discount events which are reported to have happened just because it was written about earlier. If the event happens, it happens whether people knew about earlier writings or not.

      The OT prophesies of Jesus which were fulfilled cannot be discounted just because they were written about earlier. Remember, an alternate explanation is not a refutation. Some prophesies could have been intentionally fulfilled, but there are many which jesus or the disciples had no control over. Recording their fulfillment does not refute, or even give us reason to doubt. Just a quick example, say you met a woman who you did not know who claimed to be psychic wrote a few predictions for your life a few months in advance. She gave you what she wrote to read over. Lets say many or all the predictions came true and you wrote her back giving her the details of what she wrote and how it came to happen in your life. Do we discount whether her predictions were true just because you already knew what she predicted? Let’s say they were events which you could not control: like winning the lottery, your brother dying in a car accident, and your parents getting a divorce.

      • The problem I find, and forgive me for being blunt at this point, with arguing the historicity of the New Testament with Christians is that Christians believe their opinion is purely objective while those of other religions and beliefs are merely subjective. What knowledge do you possess that everyone else does not?

        On the historicity of the Bible: Jesus wrote nothing. Most of his followers were illiterate and there exists no eyewitness account of his life or ministry. Yes, it was a pretty dumb thing to appear to the illiterate Middle East and not to the Chinese who were already studying Confucius. Virtually all that we know about Jesus and his beliefs come from the Gospels and from the letters of St Paul. All were educated Greek-speaking Hellenized Jews, outsiders to Judea. None knew Jesus and none are likely even to have known anyone who did.

        There were originally around twenty Gospels, four of which eventually became part of the official Christian canon because they fitted into the authorized version of the Christian story. And even the canonical four were changed to fit in. Mark, for instance, chronologically the earliest of the canonical Gospels, originally contained no account of the Resurrection. This was tacked on in the second century when the issue of the Resurrection became central to Christian belief.

        None of this matter to the Christian, however. No amount of scholarly research can settle the question of whether one should suspend all disbelief and accept incidents such as the Virgin birth and the Resurrection as being miraculously true, any more than it can settle the question of whether one should suspend all disbelief and accept the Qur’an as the word of God given to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel, or indeed whether Krishna lifted up a mountain on his little finger to save the villagers of Braj from torrents of rain as many Hindus believe. Christians suspend all disbelief about the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, but refuse to do so about Muhammad’s Revelation. Muslims do the opposite. Atheists see no reason to suspend disbelief in either case. Furthermore, while no amount of evidence would be able to convince a Christian that what they believe is false, rest assured, however, that every single Christian in America would jump on any evidence for an inkling of credibility to their religion, which there has been none.

        Christians refuse to acknowledge the hack-job that is the Jesus story of nearly twenty other deities that predated Jesus, which cannot even be refuted. To bring in the eyewitness analogy once again (and I apologize for not stating this last night, I was just really tired), would one not think that the claims of supernatural phenomena be held to a higher standard of inquiry? You do not give the time of day to the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Mayans, etc, who all claim to have eyewitness accounts of interactions with their gods. Yet you are willing to stake everything on the New Testament. Surely, you can see the faulty logic in this!

        • Are you suggesting only skeptics of the historicity of the NT are objective?

          Perhaps you could point to some evidence that Jesus’ followers were illiterate to follow up with the assertion?

          Your history is a bit wrong, there werent originally 20 Gospels. There may have been 20 by the time the canon was chosen, however that does not mean the 4 we use today were arbitrarily chosen.

          When you reference other figures who have supernatural events surrounding them, how long after they are reported to have lived do these writings show up? You and another reader keep “referencing” other historical writings but never provide citation, perhaps you would cite them so we can see exactly the claims made for these individuals.

          • The illiteracy stems from there being no documents from that area from that time period, apart from the Bible, of course, which in any case was God-inspired.

            Are you asking when were they written or when were they discovered? Surely you cannot be unfamiliar with the mythologies other than your own.

            • Thats a non sequitor argument.

              I am asking when were the documents written, and how long after the individual they report supernatural-linked events to the person were they written? If you are going to refer to these other miraculous events and persons, I’d like you to cite them so we can evaluate them. You and others are under the impression, it seems to me, that records of supernatural events are an all or nothing venture–either we accept them all, or we accept none. Instead, we take them each on an individual basis.

  5. That is not what I am saying at all. I agree that each must be taken on an individual basis, we just have come to the same conclusion for all of them. You still have not explained why the N.T. is infinitely more infallible than Herodotus and his ‘Theogony’ or any of Homer’s works, all which were written in the Pre-Classical era of Greek literature around 800 BCE. Why not believe Mayan hieroglyphics which were dated as early as the 3rd centure BCE, I believe. The earliest texts for the N.T. have been dated to the early 2nd century (http://www.bethinking.org/resource.php?ID=207), nearly 100 years after Jesus’ supposed death. Also, bear in mind that the source I provided is in defense of the N.T. just in case you think the article was prone to bias…

    • Herodotus– Date Wrtten: 480-425 B.C. Earliest Copy: 900 A.D. Time Span between earliest copy and original: 1300 yrs Number of copies we have: 8

      Homer’s Illyad — Date Written: 900 B.C Earliest Copy: 400 B.C. Time span between earliest copy and original: 500 yrs. Number of copies we have: 643

      New Testament — Date Written: 50-100 A.D Earliest Copy: 130-150 A.D Time span between earliest copy and original: >100 yrs Number of copies we have:5600+(greek alone)

      Heres one reason to give some preference to the NT when it comes to accuracy. The NT is the most historically attested work of antiquity. So we’re clear, “The earliest texts for the N.T. have been dated to the early 2nd century” is the earliest copies, not when they were written. Since the release of McDowell’s information, there have been more than 600 more greek manuscripts discovered. But number of copies, and proximity of copies to original writings speak more for accuracy of the copies to the originals. The thing with the NT is they were written within a life time of people who could have debunked the whole Jesus story…but didnt. Do you find it strange that no early Roman or Jewish historian references Jesus as a myth?

      • Barely any Roman or Jewish historians reference Jesus at all, and those that do are like, “Yeah, there’s this guy they call Jesus and they say he’s doing miracles or something.” Everybody loves to cite Josephus but Jesus has like, half a paragraph in his writing, if I remember correctly. There were gobs of people claiming to be the messiah of Jewish prophecy. What would be the point of debunking this particular one?

        Nobody is asking you to base your life on the Iliad or regard it as absolute truth. I don’t think the Iliad is reliable at all! I don’t know how much historians really base on Herodotus, but they also compare to archaeology, etc. and again, I’m sure they don’t see it as divine and inerrant truth.

  6. So are you seriously contending that the only reason you do not believe the cosmogony stories of the ‘Theogony’ is because we have a late copy? Why on earth are we still having this debate. I’ve said multiple times, even if every single one of the texts written about Jesus, including the ones that are not included in the canonical Bible, that still does not make him God.

    “Do you find it strange that no early Roman or Jewish historian references Jesus as a myth?” No, I find it odd that there is no credible early Roman or Jewish historian that even references Jesus. And before you start trodding out names like Josephus and referencing the Talmud, I would urge you to actually study those texts before using them as evidence.

    • *Sigh*, no, you asked a reason we can have more trust in the NT as opposed to the others. I provided you with a reason. We don’t need to continue this on whether Jesus is God…since this post is not about whether or not Jesus is God. The deity of Jesus is off topic. This post is about the error of dismissing the NT because it isn’t “an independent source”. I’d be happy to stay on topic :)

      Out of curiosity, what would you consider early and credible? Those terms are pretty subjective.

  7. My apologies, credible can be quite subjective. What I meant to say was that drudging out Josephus is a source that I hear used quite frequently and the sad thing is that most are not aware of what was actually written, the same applies to the Talmud. Joseph wrote, of his 18 books, a single paragraph about Jesus. Furthermore, many scholars, including the professors of several of my friends who attend a seminary, believe the paragraph to be a forgery anyway (I won’t get into all the reasons right now).

    The most striking part, however, is actually the lack of external sources for Jesus. A great example would be the Jewish historian Philo-Judaeus. If I may quote Remsburg from ‘The Christ’:

    Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ’s miraculous birth and Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness and resurrection of the dead took place – when Christ himself rose from the dead and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.”

  8. Layla Gonzalez says:

    Wow, some of the responses here are scary. I mean not to insult but how little so many of you really know about the Word of God. The interesting thing here is that science proves Biblical truths time and time again. Quantum physics explains many of the miraculous miracles and events. The Book of Thomas was not included in the works because his book was , “Jesus said, “…..,” Jesus said, “…..,” and on and – Thomas just repeated and recorded the sayings of Jesus. The Book of Mary Magdalene was not included because a “woman” wrote it. Yet surprisingly Jesus was the first to begin the Womens Liberation movement. He appeared to two women. There are many other books held in the conclaves of the Vatican along with may Jewish artifacts that they will not reveal. The 66 books were compiled over approximately 1200 years or so. No book could possibly hold that much truth and command so much respect if it were not the Word of God.

    If Jesus is not the Son of God then please explain how “ONE MAN” could command so much respect?
    It is harder to believe that their is not God and that Jesus is not His Son than to believe in God and Jesus as His son and our Lord and Savior.

    • Not to sound insulting, but are these actual questions that you have? I know I have gotten a bit heated with Mr. Barron, but at least our debate, in my humble opinion, has been rather intelligent. I almost don’t know what to say.

      To assert how much I know about the Bible, I was a Fundamental Baptist until this past new year. Granted, simply being a Christian does not necessarily translate into knowledge, but I think I have a pretty firm understanding of the Bible, but at the same time, not as well as say Biblical scholars.

      At the ‘science proves the Bible’ assertion, I’m really dumbfounded at this statement. I can honestly say I have never encountered that statement, even while I was a Christian. As a person who was originally pre-med at the University of Chicago and in my first year was offered a position in a neurological lab, I hope you will agree that I have at least a bit of understanding of science. I will make the claim that science almost exclusively contradicts the Bible. Out of the many examples that I can give, I will just ask one question: How was there light before the sun and stars, and, by extension, the moon in the Genesis cosmogony story?

      How can one man command such respect? Are you unfamiliar with practically any other religion? It pains me to say this, but it is almost as you have never read or heard any argument against Christianity

      “Jesus was the first to begin the Women’s Liberation.” Really? Have you even read the Bible? I mean, come on. You have to believe me when I say I am realllllly trying to keep calm while reading this, but it is this type of ignorance of what the Bible actually says that I find hard not to criticize profusely.

      • As far as “light before the sun” the whole issue rests on the Hebrew words used to describe what is going on. In Gen 1 “and God created…”, the word for created (bara)denoted an “out-of-nothing” ex-nihilo. When it says “and God made the sun…” the word for made (asa) denoted brought forth. The best explanation is that of the atmosphere being opaque at the point of creation. On the day the sun…was “made” the atmosphere was cleared and the sun was made visable. Just as on very cloudy days we can still see by the light, but cannot see the sun.

        Check out [http://www.reasons.org] for how science and the bible are not enemies, they can explain it far better than I can. I think the biggest hinderence on this issue is skeptics argue that Christians only argue from a young earth perspective, like from answers in genesis. I dont think aig is overall credible, they make a lot of leaps and are loose with interpretations and limitations of the evidence. But check out ‘reasons’ for a biblical perspective on science, biology and the bible.

  9. John Barron jr asked for more reliable accounts for mythical events than the NT. So, here are a few: The deeds and miracles made by pharaos of Egypt were recorded before their death on the walls of their burial chambers in hieroglyphs. The miraculous events in Mayan empire were recorded on their temples at the peak of their culture, when they soposedly happened. The miraculous acts of the norse gods and encounters they had with the mortals were recorded by a christian priest Snorri Sturlusson. (Being christian he could not be biased against these, or could he?) There are thousands of UFO sightings around the world and the eyewitness accounts are recorded all along they are reported by modern means of media. Why would any of these be in any way less credible than the NT?

    • Can you point me to somewhere that verifies this? You arent telling me what any of the claims are or when they were written, just stating there are claims, which clears up nothing. Perhaps a website which has all this documented and chronicled that I can read it? I want to know what the writings say. I assume you havent climed the Mayan temples or tombs of the Pharoah’s, so where can we find these writings? Or should I take your word for it that they are exactly parallel to the NT accounts of supernatural events? Unless you are just repeating something you heard other skeptics say. When you provide the sources we can look them over and I can explain why they may be less credible, but each is to be evaluated on its own merits.

      Just for clarification, when you say “UFO” do you mean “alien space ship from another planet” or do you mean an unidentified flying object? Unidentified flying objects are rather uncontroversial.

      • What is the point of giving you the sources, if you have allready beforehand decided that you can explain them as less reliable than the NT? Even before you have read them? That is showing such bias. I would recommend you go to library and read for example Snorri Sturlusson and his Edda poems.

        In my book, it is common knowledge that the Egyptian pharaos performed rituals to make the Nile fertile. Also it is common knowledge that the Mayans performed human sacrifice to make the land fertile. What is to say these rituals did not work? If you were totally unaware of these cultures and their rituals, maybe for the sake of conversation, easy way for you to have a glimpse of them is simply Wikipedia:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_religion
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization

        At the end of the articles you will find a list of sources you might find interresting as reference.

        Why would you sopose I am only repeating what other skeptics have said? Does my reasoning not seem as original enough? Are you only repeating what other religious people have said? How, can you assume I have not climbed the mayan temples or visited the tombs of pharaos? What basis do you have on such an assumption? Those are not such wondrous feats today and if I tell you I have achieved them, you will not have any way to prove I have not done these things. I have no way to prove I have. I can only tell you I have studied these cultures in my studies at the University of Helsinki, yet you do not have to believe this. But I suggest, that you study more thoroughly other religions and myths before you try to tell the “truth in religion”.

        Yes, there are rather credible sightings of unidentified flying objects by airplane pilots and other generally speaking more credible people than religious fanatics of the Levant of antiquity. That is my point all a long. Why would anyone explain them as space ships from a nother world or as angels, or as a heavenly warparty. Are you skeptic about them being from a nother world? Is your skepticism based on scientific naturalism? The fact that there are unexplainable events, does not by any measure lead to the conclusion that one particular religion would be more true than any other. And by any measure the NT is not the most credible source for “supernatural” events.

        To Layla Gonzales I have three questions: If Mohammed did not interact with Allah, how could “one man” command such respect? If Buddha did not reach Nirvana, how could “one man” command such respect? Why does Gandhi as “one man” command such respect, even though he was in no way divinal?

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