December 25, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

The Christmas Story As Told by a Secular Science Reporter

Here’s how the Christmas Story fares under the lens of a secular science reporter who doesn’t believe in a miracle-working God who enters into history.

On Live Science, Tia Ghose takes on the task of telling her readers which parts of the Nativity Story are “true” and part of “history.”  But if a reporter believes miracles are impossible, Jesus was a mere man, and God doesn’t exist, one can predict the resulting spin.  She has already put the Bible in opposition to true history.

One way a reporter can pretend to be objective is to quote scholars from opposing viewpoints.  That’s how Ms Ghose begins: first quoting a skeptic, then a notable Christian professor, Ben Witherington of Asbury Seminary.  Witherington is quoted, however, to explain why there is not more historical material: “Jesus was a minor (at the time) historical figure born in a Roman backwater, it’s impressive that any evidence for his life and death exists at all,” she relays from Witherington.

Some of Ghose’s recounting of the “true” parts of the story are fairly straightforward, such as the dates for Herod the Great, his propensity for atrocity in the story of the “slaughter of the innocents” (which probably did not involve very many families in the little town of Bethlehem), and the opinions about December 25 being the birth date of Jesus.  Most of the time, though, she sows seeds of doubt about the historicity of the accounts.  For instance, while many secularists are interested in what kind of “natural” astronomical phenomenon gave rise to the Star of Bethlehem story, she leaves Witherington describing it as a “miraculous local phenomenon” which, by that account, would be historically unverifiable.

Another way for a secular reporter to avoid dealing with the credibility of the record, including its supernatural elements, is to say that the facts don’t matter if they make people feel good:

Though some biblical scholars doubt the veracity of the Gospels, that doesn’t mean the original writers were lying, per se. The ancients would have viewed the narratives of Jesus’ birth as true in a larger sense, even if they played a little fast and loose with the facts, Landau said.

Regardless of how many of the details are true, the stories still have power today.

She ends by saying the story is “comforting” to many.  Historians who care about factuality don’t want to be seen as party-poopers, Ghose concludes.  Most of the comments appear to be from atheists.

How sad for those gullible, uneducated Christians who just don’t understand science.  Leave them alone in their fantasies, so we don’t make them uncomfortable.  No need to cause them distress by questioning their story.  Let them have their music and traditions, and find satisfaction in the “power” of storytelling, while us educated ones trade in facts, truth, and history.  Is this Tia Ghose’s attitude?

May we point out that Luke is acknowledged by all as a learned man and a careful historian?  Yet he is the one that verifies Jesus’ virgin birth, identity as the Son of God, and the one accompanied by angels who announced his birth to shepherds, and to Zacharias, Joseph and Mary.  Luke described in detail Jesus’ miracles, death, and resurrection.  Luke had access to eyewitness accounts.  When he gives details that can be independently corroborated, he is always right.  So who is Tia Ghose, now 2,000 years distant from the events, to call him a liar?  “Well, he wasn’t lying, per se; he just viewed his narrative as true in a larger sense,” she says.  What kind of nonsense is that?  Such new-agey, relativistic thinking would be incomprehensible to Luke, the one who gave us most of the details of the Nativity.  He said in the preface to his gospel,

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)

In the preface to his second book, the Acts of the Apostles, he reiterates his commitment to facts and to incontrovertible evidence of actual events:

The former treatise [his gospel of Luke] have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God…. (Acts 1:1-3)

The other gospel writers (Matthew and John) were eyewitnesses, spending at least 3 years as disciples of Jesus. They saw him work miracles, teach profound truths, silence the experts, and rise from the dead.  John Mark (author of Mark) was a close associate of Peter, and probably an eyewitness of many parts of Jesus’ life and ministry, especially of his crucifixion and resurrection.  Each of the 11 faithful disciples and Paul were martyrs.  Under threat of death, they never wavered or claimed anything they preached or wrote about the events in the life of Jesus, including his miracles and resurrection, was false.  The story had “power” and was “comforting” because it was true.  It had been foretold centuries before; there’s more incontrovertible evidence.

But now some self-styled scientific experts come along to sow seeds of doubt.  What do they know?  They weren’t there.  Their chosen secular-materialist worldview prevents them from taking these records seriously.

So let’s start our commentary over.  How sad for those know-nothing secularists who just refuse to consider evidence that disagrees with their world view.  Leave them alone in their evolutionary myths and fantasies, so we don’t make them uncomfortable.  No need to cause them distress by questioning their materialist philosophy.  Let them have their holiday parties and fun, get drunk on Darwine, and find satisfaction in the “power” of just-so storytelling.  Maybe when they sober up again we can have a little chat about facts, truth, and history, then wish them the power of and joy of a true Christmas.






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