It’s Easter time. That means the secularists are hatching and buzzing like cicadas with their latest attempts to debunk the Bible’s account of Christ and his miracles.
With atheist billboards proclaiming “Jesus did not die for your sins,” what position should scientists and science reporters take on documents pertaining to a historical figure written by contemporary eyewitnesses? Perhaps neutrality would be preferable to what often appears in the media in Easter season.
How does one put “Jesus” and “evolution” adjacent in the same sentence? Steven Prothero (religion department, Boston University) on National Geographic found a way; “On Easter, Jesus’ Evolution Tells of Changing America.” He doesn’t assert that Jesus himself evolved, therefore, but that American attitudes about him have. True as that may be, it gives the impression that anyone can think whatever they want about Jesus. A scientist or historian should pursue the facts, not the swirling opinions of diverse interest groups who try to appropriate Jesus to their biases.
Tanya Lewis revives the long-discredited swoon theory in an article on Live Science. After telling five true stories about patients who bounced back from comas and other near-death states, she uses the power of suggestion to drop this notion:
As far as crucifixion is concerned, it may be possible to survive for a short period of time (indeed, some people take part in non-lethal crucifixion as a devotional practice.) But that’s another story.
In another post on Live Science (a website that seems to take pleasure in undermining Bible claims at holidays), assistant editor Mark Lallanilla lists “5 Unanswered Questions about Jesus.” But are they really unanswered, or just doubted? The Gospel writers say Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee. One can examine whether that record is trustworthy, but it’s a different claim to say it is “unanswered.” Lallanilla floats this proposition:
During an unusual cold snap, when temperatures dropped to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 4 degrees Celsius), a floating patch of ice could have developed above the salty springs found along the lake’s western shore. Floating ice in the unfrozen waters of the lake would have been hard to spot, researchers claim, especially if rain had smoothed its surface.
Ask any Alaskan lumberjack if he would like to wear sandals, a tunic and a robe on a slippery piece of ice in the rain, let alone try to walk across the tipsy thing rather than scramble to keep his balance without falling into the 25-degree water, if this is credible. One would think the disciples and their readers, long familiar with the Sea of Galilee, would have known about that trick if it were possible. Would they have been so astonished at the appearance of Jesus walking on the water? Wouldn’t they say, “C’mon, Jesus, we know you’re standing on a piece of ice; get real.” The gospels say that Jesus began his walk on the water near the eastern shore, not the western shore. From the record, he walked a considerable distance before meeting up with the disciples. In the windy, stormy conditions that night, they would have seen him prostrate on a patch of ice, clinging for dear life and calling out for help, not commanding their respect. How Peter found more ice patches to walk out to Jesus is also unexplained. The tale seems preposterous on several levels, but rather than run a scientific experiment at the Sea of Galilee to see if floating patches of ice develop, and if people can walk on them in freezing conditions, he merely suggests that it “could” have happened (see PMCI definition). This, remember, is being reported on a “science” site.
Lallanilla also questions the precise dates of Jesus’ birth and death. Those are a matter of historical scrutiny, but not the fact he was born and did die. Curiously, Lallanilla gives more credence to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and some second-century gnostic manuscripts than to eyewitnesses Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in order to suggest that Jesus was married – something for which there is no contemporary evidence and strong reason to doubt, given Jesus’ frequent statements about his mission from the Father.
The only question out of the five that some will agree remains unanswered is whether the Shroud of Turn is associated with the death of Jesus.
Bart Ehrman, an apostate Christian, has been a favorite among skeptics who desire to de-mythologize Jesus with an air of scholarship. World Magazine notes a new book by a group of Bible scholars that takes on Ehrman’s latest work, How Jesus Became God, with a response entitled, How God Became Jesus:
Easter is no longer just a time for Christians to celebrate the Resurrection and non-Christians to celebrate Easter bunnies. It’s also a time for anti-Christians to come out with highly publicized books attacking biblical accounts. Annually they debunk all the way to the bank. Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee is one of this year’s efforts.
The magazine will feature critiques of Ehrman’s book and excerpts from the response book.
Isn’t it amazing the lengths that “science” reporters will go to in order to question the Biblical record of Jesus? Good grief, the old “swoon theory” has been soundly discredited for decades (see Lee Strobel and others explain how ludicrous this idea is in The Case for Christ). The ice-walking theory is so absurd, one wouldn’t even have to demonstrate it to laugh out loud at the thought.
Would the skeptics treat any other historical record with such cavalier disdain? Read the New Testament. It’s a sober narrative by men of sound mind and high moral standards, with utmost regard for the truth. The book that has inspired the greatest art, music and literature, that has inspired hospitals and free governments and unselfish works, is not built on myths. The authors, eyewitnesses and associates of eyewitnesses, went to martyr’s deaths to proclaim what they saw and knew (I Corinthians 15).
What drives the skeptics is not concern for facts, but a deep antipathy to anything that threatens their own religion – devotion to their beloved idol, Darwin. Let’s hear no nonsense about them trying to maintain “neutrality” by considering only “natural” causes. They’re supernaturalists already, in spite of their skepticism. They believe in truth, don’t they? They believe in reason, don’t they? They believe in logic, don’t they? Such things do not emerge out of hydrogen, nor do they evolve. In order to discount the Biblical record of miracles, they end up concocting their own imaginary miracles. The question is not whether the supernatural is part and parcel of their own human experience, but which supernatural things they will choose to believe when the evidence is sufficient.