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The Hoaxes of Evolution: or The Non-missing Links.

March 17, 2009

The fossil record is filled with amazing creatures whose complete or near complete skeletons are physical proof of their existence. There is no dispute in this area. But what of the fossils that supposedly prove the existence of so called early man or man in his infancy so to speak. Well there have been a great many proofs put forth to make the case for such a creature. What are they? check out this list. In order of appearance we have:

Piltdown Man
Between 1908 and 1912 parts of a human skull, some canine teeth and a primitive ape like jaw were excavated in Sussex England.  from the same pit were also found other fossils including elephant, mastodon, hippopotimus, rhinoceros, beaver and deer. Out of skull and jawbone fragments, Charles Dawson reconstructed what became known as Piltdown Man. For 40 years this evidence served as proof of the link between man and ape and was never questioned. Indeed over 500 doctoral dissertations were written concerning this skull. But in 1953 the hoax was exposed as Kenneth Oakley, Joseph Weiner and Wilfred L Gros Clark exposed the skull as a fraud. The skullcap was fully human. And in 1982 the lower jaw fragments, including the teeth were found to be from a juvenile female Orangutan. The jaw had been chemically treated to make it appear to match the skull. The jawbone turned out to be that of a modern orangutan. As for the other fossils, well these had been planted from other areas including Malta adn Tunisia. Even as early as 1916 there were reports of tampering when dental anatomists noticed that there were artificial abrasions on the teeth which were cleary file marks.

Next we have:

Boule’s Neanderthal Man
Neanderthal skulls were first discovered in Engis Belgium in 1829 and in Forbes’ Quarry, Gibraltar in 1848. Then in 1856 in the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf Germany, a skullcap, two femora three bones from a right arm and two from a left, along with a scapula and some ribs were dug up and given to amateur naturalist Johann Carl Fuhlrott who turned the fossils over to anatomist Hermann Schallffhausen. The discovery was jointly announced in 1857. French anthropologist Marcellin Boule published a series of scientific papers from 1911 to 1913. He also reconstructed a skeleton in 1915 and intentionally mis-arranged the foot bones so that the big toe diverged from the other toes to look like an opposing thumb. The knee joint was misplaced to give a bent-knee look. The spine was misshapen so it couldn’t stand upright and the head was placed in an unbalanced position too far forward. Boule’s model of Neanderthal man was placed on display in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago for 44 years before the mistakes were discovered! After the mistakes were disclosed, they kept it on display for another 20 years until they created a new Neanderthal model. What did they do with the old inaccurate model? Instead of throwing it in the garbage can where it belonged, they moved it to the second floor of the museum and displayed a new sign, “An Alternate View of Neanderthal.” But what was “Neanderthal man?” He was a man who suffered from severe arthritis. Hense the disfiguration.

 

 

We turn now to:

Nebraska Man
In 1922 a gentleman by the name of Harold Cook found a single molar tooth in Nebraska. It was examined and declared to be the tooth of an ancient ape man by paleontologist Henry Osborn from the Museum of Natural History. Nebraska man was reconstructed from a single tooth! Talk about your wild guesses. What is even more amazing–the tooth ended up belonging to what was deemed an extinct pig! And then in 1972 the species of extinct pig was found still alive in Paraguay. A double hoax!

Java Man
Java Man was reconstructed from a skullcap, thighbone, and 2 molar teeth. Dr. Eugene DuBois found the thighbone 50 feet away from the skullcap, but assumed it was the same individual. Then, after discovering human skulls at the same level near his Java Man discovery, he hid the human skulls under the floorboards of his bedroom for 26 years. Before his death DuBois confessed that he had not found the missing link and admitted that Java Man was probably a giant gibbon. Yet another hoax!

Orce Man
This missing link was found in the southern Spanish town of Orce in 1982, and hailed as the oldest fossilized human remains ever found in Europe. One year later officials admitted the skull fragment was not human, but probably came from a 4-month old donkey. Scientists had said the skull belonged to a 17 year old man who lived 900,000 to 1.6 million years ago, and had even made very detailed drawings to represent what he would have looked like. (“Skull fragment may not be human”, Knoxville News-Sentinel, 1983)

What do you think?

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. wintermute permalink
    March 17, 2009 7:32 pm

    Piltdown Man: A practical joke that went too far. A few palaeontologists in Britain accepted it, as it mean that the oldest known human fossil was British and not French (Cro Magnion) or German (Neanderthal). The majority of scientists, however, never accepted it, and when science moved on, it got more and more marginalised until, by the time it was definitively revealed as a hoax, it had been completely abandoned.

    Conclusion: The self-correcting mechanism of science works.

    Neanderthal man: Hundreds of specimens of Homo neanderthalensis have been found, and they are displayed in museums all around the world. They look absolutely nothing like human skeletons with arthritis; for example the skull is significantly thicker and flatter than a modern humans; creationists who claim that specimens of H. neanderthalensis are all suffering from arthritis neglect to point out why it always seems to take such an atypical form.

    Conclusion: Creationists are liars.

    Nebraska Man: Osbourne was widely regared by his peers as a third-rate scientist. That he misidentified a pig tooth as a human tooth is hardly surprising; when worn they can look surprisingly familiar, and anyone not intimately familiar with pig dentition would be likely to make the same mistake. The only “reconstruction” of Nebraska man was done by the London Illustrated Post (hardly a peer-reviewed journal), that came with a bold disclaimer saying that it was an artists impression for illustrative purposes only. The error was corrected by Osborne himself a year later, when he visited the site. It was never written up in any scientific paper, or accepted by the scientific community.

    Conclusion: Not a hoax, but an honest mistake quickly corrected that didn’t affect scientific thought at all.

    Java Man: The second example of Homo erectus (after Peking Man). The bones are still on display in the American Museum of Natural History, and are clearly not those of a great ape. Dubois never claimed that he thought that Java Man was a gibbon.

    Conclusion: Creationists don’t like doing simple research.

    Orce Man: This is a small fragment of a skull, just a couple of inches across. There is some debate as to whether it’s from a hominid or an equid. However, best evidence at present is that it’s from a hominid, which would indeed make it the oldest human fossil in Europe. However, due to its uncertain status, it’s not presented as evidence for anything. Indeed, I like to think I’m up to date on this kind of thing, but I’d never heard of this until just now, and almost every reference is from creationist websites. I can find no reference to a drawing based on this two-inch segment of the back of a skull. Who is supposed to be perpetrating this “hoax”?

    Conclusion: Creationists take genuine scientific debate and pretend it means that everyone is lying about everything.

    In none of these cases has any research been done by creationists. At best, they highlight the errors that scientists made in the past, while implicitly accepting their current research as accurate (otherwise, how would they know that the earlier identification was an error?). At worst they bake up blatant lies knowing that their followers won’t bother to do the five minutes of research it would take to prove that they’re completely without merit.

    At least we’re getting into something worth talking about now.

  2. wintermute permalink
    March 17, 2009 7:42 pm

    And while we’re on the subject, what do you have to say about the following hominid fossils?

    Sahelanthropus tchadensis
    Orrorin tugenensis
    Ardipithecus ramidus
    Australopithecus anamensis
    Australopithecus afarensis
    Kenyanthropus platyops
    Australopithecus africanus
    Australopithecus garhi
    Australopithecus aethiopicus
    Australopithecus robustus
    Australopithecus boisei
    Homo habilis
    Homo georgicus
    Homo erectus
    Homo ergaster
    Homo antecessor
    Homo heidelbergensis
    Homo neanderthalensis
    Homo floresiensis

    As these are recognised species, you’ll nother that they have proper scientific binomials rather than being called something like “Piltdown Man” or “Nebraska Man”. Each of these species has dozens (in some cases, thousands) of fossil specimens and are accepted as being members of the human family tree, though not necessarily direct ancestors.

    Do you think that having dismissed a couple of fossils that were never accepted by the scientific community, and spreading lies about a couple of others means that all the rest of the fossils just magically disappear? Don’t you have to prove that all of these are “hoaxes”?

  3. March 17, 2009 10:51 pm

    I emailed you an attachment after going through the evidence for each of these fossils and while those who put forth their evidence are learned men and women, their evidence is found wanting.

  4. wintermute permalink
    March 18, 2009 12:55 pm

    Yeah, except that you didn’t even look at the evidence. You looked at a summary of the conclusion written for the layman, and then declared that you disagreed, without ever providing a reason or engaging with the actual evidence.

    By way of comparison, how solid do you think the evidence is that H. neanderthalis was simply an arthritic modern human? What features of the evidence convince you that Java Man is a giant gibbon, rather than H. erectus? Do you really think you’re better able to evaluate primate anatomy (without ever seeing the evidence!) than, ummm… every single trained, professional primatologist and palaeoanthropologist in the world?

    Are there any other topics you’ve never even though about that you’re probably a world-class expert in?

  5. wintermute permalink
    March 18, 2009 1:41 pm

    Besides, what are you trying to achieve here? Even if you somehow manage to overturn everything we know about human evolution (which, just be be clear, you’re failing at), how does that help your aim to prove that God exists? Do these fossils somehow “prove” that God doesn’t exist? Are there no options other than “these fossils are genuine human ancestors” and “God exists”?

    Casting doubt on one small section of evolution is one thing (that you’ve not done), but it’s not positive evidence for divine creation, which is what you promised to provide.

    • March 18, 2009 4:34 pm

      Let me begin by replying to your statement of me being a world class expert: I profess expertise in nothing. I do possess knowledge in various subjects even as you do. But I also profess that I, even as you, have much to learn.

      Now I went down the list of names you gave and yes I did read the summaries from wikapedia which as you say is the current consensus from the scientific community. Doesn’t that mean that this is where science stands now? (You don’t think the wikapedia guys are under cover creationists do you?) The information was quite facinating. You see, I am not saying that there are no fossils. It is beyond dispute that thre are fossils which have been studied intensively by learned men. Many of these scientists have come to conclusions via their evolutionary presuppositions/conclusions. Others have come to diffferent conclusions.

      The danger for the Christian is to do the same thing. Many Christians would ‘throw out the baby with the bath water; they would say, “I don’t believe there are any fossils.” I have not/would not/could not do that. What I have done is look at the summaries made by scientists, and also the visible evidence (two pieces of a face are not conclusive about anything except that something had a face) and especially the sculptureal renderings bacause these are declared to be artistic renditions of what ‘such and such’ fossil really looked like. I don’t believe I used the term giant gibbon; I used Orangutan. And if we can look at these pictures and sculptures objectively we can see chimps, orangutans, baboons, gorillas albeit with humanized facial features.

      How do we know that certain people had bigger muscles that others without seeing the muscles? Woudl we look at the skeletal structure? And does that mean that all bodybuilders have different types of skeletons than regular people? Everyone has a skeleton but though we have the same bones, there are different bone structures to each. I may be tall. You may be short. Some people possess a wide shoulder girdle which denotes wide shoulders. These are characteristics of body structure. Does that mean that all the ‘heidelburg man’ fossils found had wide shoulder girdles? which would denote wide shoulders? Using the bodybuilding analogy further, there was a bodybuilder in the 1960’s by the name of Larry Scott. He was the first Mr. Olympia, (top bodybuilding title) and was praised for his incredible deltoid development. His shoulders were very wide and massive. But he has a naturally narrow shoulder girdle and it took years of hard work to develop those wide shoulders. So skeletal structure isn’t always conclusive in identifying body type.

      I’m sure that men wrote many papers concerning their belief that the world was flat. Indeed, as you well know, there is a ‘Flat Earth Society’ even today when we know different. It has been “debunked.” Now, using Professor Dawkins “flying spaghetti monster” analogy, if there were 1500 papers written about said monster, would that make it real? It obviously isn’t real to Professor Dawkins; he uses it to deride those who believe in God. The claim is made that Christians can’t prove the existence of God because they can’t show Him. They, to coin a phrase, are under “the god delusion.” We have an entire book, archeological and historical evidence plus accounts from eyewitnesses to back up our belief. But most conclusive of all, we Christians have had a personal, transformational encounter with God which solidifies our belief. (delusion)

      Now you may say that there are hundreds of religions which have made similar claims of truth but in all of these religions, not one of the founders has claimed to be God and then given evidence to prove that He is indeed God. The pope is called God on earth and yet each pope has died and has not come back to life as Jesus did. Jim Jones declared he was God to his followers and then killed himself and all of his followers. He too, has stayed dead. Jesus Christ claimed to be God on several occasions to the point that the religious leaders of His day were ready to stone Him. (The Jewish people are meticulous geneologists who can prove documentarily that the men listed in the Bible are real living individuals.) Throughout His minstry on earth Jesus declared that He would die and come back to life. When He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea after His crucifixion, Pontius Pilate, an actual historical man, an actual governor of Judea during the time of Christ, (provable by Roman documents) gave the religious leaders a Roman guard to watch the tomb. As you well know, the Roman Army was the most powerful, most devastating fighting machine in the world at that time. These men were under penalty of death to do their job. Any failure was punishable by death.

      Well, they failed. Jesus rose from the grave and they went to the religious leaders for help. The religious leaders gave them money to spread a story that “the disciples of Jesus stole His body while we were sleeping.” Now I don’t know about you but when I’m sleeping, I don’t know what is going on around me. Then too, Jesus’ body was buried in the tomb of one of the religious leaders named Joseph of Arimathea. The location of the tomb is stated very clearly; the Garden of Gethsemene. This too was a known place to the religious leaders. If Jesus had not been risen why didn’t they just produce the body? Why did they bribe the Roman soldiers? When the disciples of Jesus started preaching the resurrection of Jesus, why didn’t they just say, “Nope, your wrong. Here’s the body of Jesus.” They didn’t because they couldn’t. This just a summary of the facts of Christianity which have more documentation than anything else in the world. And is this Jesus who created the world and all that is in it. And He didn’t make prototype man. He made man right the first time. This will be dealt with in my next post. I merely wanted to set the stage.

      Mike

  6. wintermute permalink
    March 18, 2009 6:30 pm

    Now I went down the list of names you gave and yes I did read the summaries from wikapedia which as you say is the current consensus from the scientific community. Doesn’t that mean that this is where science stands now?

    Yes, their summary of the consensus is about right. But your rebuttal was based on you not believing that the evidence really showed what they claim it does. And you make this rebuttal without the slightest idea what the evidence actually is.

    You see, I am not saying that there are no fossils. It is beyond dispute that thre are fossils which have been studied intensively by learned men. Many of these scientists have come to conclusions via their evolutionary presuppositions/conclusions. Others have come to diffferent conclusions.

    There are discussions in science, of course. People come to different conclusions, especially when a piece of evidence has first come to light. To start at the top of the list, some people think that S. tchadensis is a common ancestor of humans and chimps. Others think that it’s a chimp ancestor, but not a human ancestor. There’s even a minority opinion that it’s a gorilla ancestor. These are all different conclusions based on the evidence.

    However, your rebuttal seems to take this disagreement, and assume that it means that we don’t know anything about S. tchadensis. We know, for example that it’s of a primate that is currently unknown to science. We know that it lived about 7 million years ago. We know that it’s closely related to modern great apes. Careful analysis is ongoing to figure out exactly where it fits into the family tree.

    I’m not sure what your retort of “ape / man / missing link” was supposed to mean, other than that you don’t understand palaeontology; wherever it sits on the tree, it’s clearly an ape (just as modern humans are). Equally clearly it’s not a “man” in any meaningful sense. And “missing link” is not a term that’s been used in a hundred years or more, ever since we realised that there was more than one species sitting between humans and other apes. But it’s certainly a link in one chain or another; a “link” which was (until it’s discovery), “missing”.

    No-one who has studied these fossils (talking of the whole tree, rather than the one specimen) doubts that they’re extinct species of hominid that form part of an evolutionary sequence. The only people who do doubt that are the people who have deliberately avoided looking at the evidence. That is to say, liars and charlatans.

    Why should their evidence-free assertions be considered as valid as the thousands of man-years of hard work that have gone into genuine scientific research? Why should you have the right to declare them wrong, just because you don’t like the conclusions they came to?

    Why do you fear engaging with the actual evidence?

    The danger for the Christian is to do the same thing. Many Christians would ‘throw out the baby with the bath water; they would say, “I don’t believe there are any fossils.”

    Does anyone do this? The closest I’ve ever seen is to say that fossils were planted by Satan to make people doubt the word of God, but even these people believe that fossils actually exist. It’s kind of like saying I” don’t believe there are any chairs”.

    I have not/would not/could not do that. What I have done is look at the summaries made by scientists, and also the visible evidence (two pieces of a face are not conclusive about anything except that something had a face) and especially the sculptureal renderings bacause these are declared to be artistic renditions of what ’such and such’ fossil really looked like.

    “Two pieces of a face” are evidence of plenty; muscle attachment points show us how powerful he jaw muscles are – this along with dentition gives us an idea of diet and even of whether or not they cooked food. The thickness of the skull, placement of the eyes, shape of the forehead, prominence of brow ridges and a dozen other features all tell us things about the creature in question beyond whether or not it had a face. In many cases an entire skull can be reconstructed from a few choice fragments. If you actually read some of the papers, written by people who make a living knowing how to do this kind of analysis, you’d not say things so laughable.

    Artistic renderings have differing degrees of plausibility, depending on how they were made and for what purpose. Those made by newspapers that never saw the original fossils (cf Nebraska Man) are obviously worthless. Those made by forensic analysis of a skull (complete or reconstructed) are as accurate as those done by the FBI that allow the people to recognise the reconstruction of their friends and relatives, even though all they found was a smashed skull. Obviously, the more of the skull is missing, the more guesses have to be made, and the less accurate the finished product is.

    However, I’m not sure if these reproductions are really useful. They allow you to get a better impression of what a species looked like, but they don’t really impact its position on the hominid family tree.

    I don’t believe I used the term giant gibbon; I used Orangutan.

    My apologies.

    And if we can look at these pictures and sculptures objectively we can see chimps, orangutans, baboons, gorillas albeit with humanized facial features.

    You mean that your objective opinion is that these fossils (I assume that’s what you mean by “pictures”?) appear to have some features of humans, and some features of non-human apes? That is, that they’re transitional between non-human apes and humans?

    How do we know that certain people had bigger muscles that others without seeing the muscles? Woudl we look at the skeletal structure? And does that mean that all bodybuilders have different types of skeletons than regular people?

    Actually, yes. Bodybuilders have thicker bones, more capable of bearing strain. As the muscles are larger, the points where they attach to the bones (which can be clearly seen in fossils) are also larger. This is fairly basic stuff.

    Does that mean that all the ‘heidelburg man’ fossils found had wide shoulder girdles? which would denote wide shoulders?

    As you point out, there is variation within a species. If there wasn’t natural selection would have nothing to work on, and evolution would be disproved. So no. Not all members of H. heidelburgensis had broad shoulders. But the average H. heidelburgensis had broader shoulders than the average H. sapiens.

    So skeletal structure isn’t always conclusive in identifying body type.

    Not if you look at the wrong features, no.

    I’m sure that men wrote many papers concerning their belief that the world was flat. Indeed, as you well know, there is a ‘Flat Earth Society’ even today when we know different. It has been “debunked.” Now, using Professor Dawkins “flying spaghetti monster” analogy, if there were 1500 papers written about said monster, would that make it real?

    No, the presence of evidence would do that. The papers are, ultimately, irrelevant in the face of the evidence. However, if those papers detail evidence, experiment and discovery, it would be easier for someone to understand (and possibly refute) that evidence by reading the papers than by repeating the observations de novo. It would certainly be arrogant to declare that you don’t believe in the conclusion that those 1,500 papers come to, therefore you’re not going to bother seeing if they have any evidence to support that conclusion.

    It obviously isn’t real to Professor Dawkins; he uses it to deride those who believe in God.

    The point being that those papers arguing for the FSM don’t exist, and more importantly, evidence that would support the FSM hypothesis has never been presented.

    Are you arguing that evidence has never been presented to support the hypothesis that H. erectus is a human ancestor? Do you think it behoves you to see what those papers say before making such a claim?

    The claim is made that Christians can’t prove the existence of God because they can’t show Him. They, to coin a phrase, are under “the god delusion.” We have an entire book, archeological and historical evidence plus accounts from eyewitnesses to back up our belief. But most conclusive of all, we Christians have had a personal, transformational encounter with God which solidifies our belief.

    While irrelevant to the discussion of palaeoanthropology, this is finally getting at what you promised to present: evidence for god.

    There is archaeological evidence that the places mentioned in the Bible existed, yes. There is historical evidence from Tacitus and Pliny that 2nd Century Christians existed. The eye-witness testimony is simply lacking; of the New Testament, only Paul wrote within 60 years of Jesus’ death, and he was eyewitness only to a blinding flash of light.

    Now you may say that there are hundreds of religions which have made similar claims of truth but in all of these religions, not one of the founders has claimed to be God and then given evidence to prove that He is indeed God.

    Rama gave his worshippers as much evidence as Jesus did. Mithras performed exactly the same miracles as Jesus, except a thousand years earlier. Both of these people are supposed to have ascended bodily to heaven. Dozens of other godmen have made claims equally as compelling.

    The Jewish people are meticulous geneologists who can prove documentarily that the men listed in the Bible are real living individuals.

    No, they really can’t. I could produce a genealogy saying I was descended from King Arthur, but it wouldn’t prove that King Arthur was a real person. There are historical records of some people in the Bible, and not of others.

    And I’ve seen a few contradictory genealogies that purported to prove that a given person existed. These contradictions can sometimes be explained away, but not if you insist that they have the meticulous degree of accuracy that would be needed to treat them as proof of anything.

    And genetic sampling has shown that some of the best accepted of these genealogies are meaningless; for example, Aaronid priests, being male-line descendants of Aaron, should have a common male ancestor somewhere around 1,000 BC. However, there are at least three different branches of this group and the most recent common ancestor lived no more recently than 15,000 years ago. Therefore, the genealogies showing that they were all descended from Aaron must be false and can’t seriously be used to prove tht Aaron was a real person.

    Pontius Pilate, an actual historical man, an actual governor of Judea during the time of Christ, (provable by Roman documents)

    Actually, provable by a lump of rock. But I’ll grant the point.

    It’s interesting to note that Tacitus tells us that early Christians thought that Pilate was a procurator rather than a prefect. As Tacitus’ report of Christian beliefs was the only near-contemporary mention of Pilate, this error was continued until the 1960’s.

    gave the religious leaders a Roman guard to watch the tomb.

    So we are told by Christians a hundred years after the fact.

    Jesus rose from the grave and they went to the religious leaders for help. The religious leaders gave them money to spread a story that “the disciples of Jesus stole His body while we were sleeping.”

    Ditto.

    Is there any evidence that any of this actually happened?

    Can I cite Mohammed’s flight on a pegasus to heaven as proof that Islam is the one true religion? I mean, they wouldn’t have written about it if it didn’t really happen, would they?

    If Jesus had not been risen why didn’t they just produce the body?

    Why would they bother? What benefit was there to the authorities to devote manpower to opening the tomb of a local religious guru? Why should they have cared either way?

    I mean, assuming there was ever a body in the first place, of course.

    This just a summary of the facts of Christianity which have more documentation than anything else in the world.

    No, they really don’t. Outside of a handful of books written by followers a century or two later, there’s almost no evidence that any of this happened. Half a sentence in Josephus that everyone agrees was added centuries later, a scant few references to the existence of early Christians who believed that Christ had been a historical figure, and that’s it.

    It’s not like we have the order that Pilate signed ordering Jesus’ execution.

    And is this Jesus who created the world and all that is in it. And He didn’t make prototype man. He made man right the first time.

    To paraphrase: nope, you’re wrong. Here are the fossils.

    At least this time you tried to provide positive evidence for God, but asserting that the Bible constitutes proof that the Bible is correct is putting the cart before the horse somewhat.

    What do we do when the Bible contradicts known history? Like the fact that the Census of Quiranius did not require families to leave their homes, because that would have been laughable? Do we accept that the Bible might not be an accurate history, or do we abandon any attempt to validate it against other historical documents?

    • March 18, 2009 8:54 pm

      Ok, let me get a word in here…

      I haven’t denied that there is fossil evidence concerning what have all received those Latin names you gave me. This would be stupid of me for I would be denying actual physical evidence of fossil remans. I only state that evolutionary scientists have declared them to be ‘early man’ in some form or other. The conclusions listed for these fossils were well stated, ‘we’re not really sure exactly what these are…could be a chimp, could be an orangutan…could be a forerunner of humans… And regardless of the countless papers written on these subjects, they still are rife with ‘could have, may have, might have.’ You see, a fossil can tell us much but we must be very careful not to create a whole lifestyle out of, for example, two pieces of a face. These are hypothoses, (educated guesses) made by the very men who have deemed them Homo Erectus…Egaster…etc. The facts are that there are fossils, the rest is much speculation/theory/hypthosis. It is not that science doesn’t know anything…they do! The problem comes when we read between the lines and try to make our speculation into fact.

      Now let me take a poke at modern Christianity for a moment. I have sat through sermons where the preacher spent practically the entire time speculating on what was being done rather than on the written record that stood before him. For instance, in the book of Job, after a period of time where Job sits in agony, having lost his children and his health and questions God concerning the justice of the situation, God speaks to Job and for Job this is enough. Then God declares to Job’s three friends that they have spoken falsely about Him. He tells them to offer a sacrifice to Him and Job will pray for them…otherwise they would have died before the Holy wrath of God. This is according to the Bible. Now the Pastor began to speculate as to what is going on in Job’s mind. Suddenly its not God who has told Job to pray for these men but it is Job, seeing “old Bildad over there…he’s been having some problems…I think I should pray for him.” Clearly not even implied in the text.

      This leads me to my main point. What is it exactly about the bible that bugs you? You say that it contradicts history…where? for instance.

      You spoke of the census of Quirinius. There is no such animal. The biblical account declares (From the Gospel of Luke 2:1-3) 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. This was a Roman Edict straight from Caesar Augustus for the purposes of numbering the people, and increasing tax revenues for the Circus in Rome. I mean, somebody’s got to pay for it and it ain’t gonna be us Romans. This was the purpose of the census.

      And this is documented fact, not heresay by a bunch of blind Christians who will not accept truth. (You didn’t say that, nor did you even insinuate it. I am stating it as a fact.) There are over 24000 pieces of manuscript evidence for the Bible, Old Testament and New. Those who transcribed/transfered the data from one Papyrus scroll to another when the older Papyrus wore out had strict rules concerning transcription.
      Each scroll was broken down into,
      1 The number of words.
      2 The number of lines.
      3 The number of letters.
      4 The middle word or letter.
      5 Each copy was checked and double – checked for accuracy against the original with the above criteria.
      6 If a difference existed, the entire copy was checked until the error was found and corrected.
      7 If the scroll contained more than the prescribed number of errors it was destroyed
      Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest manuscript evidence we had was from 800-900 A.D. But after the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the manuscript evidence now stood at 150 B.C. And interestingly there was very little if any variation in the documents. And none of the variations that were found, changed the meaning of the texts that we have today.

      Couple this internal evidence with the external evidence found in say, the Assyrian Eponym List which corroborates biblical accounts and you have a pretty reliable history book. This only one example of an extant document that corroborates scripture. Their are others.

      So again, please tell me what it is about the Bible that bothers you? Is it its exclusivity, that it claims to be the very words of God, and the only source thereof! I agree that Christianity is a very exclusive religion…Jesus did say “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, No one comes to the Father but by Me.” Then there is the fact that the person of Jesus Christ split time from B.C. (Before Christ) to A.D. (Anno Domini or the year of our Lord) Pretty interesting if the man didn’t exist. Even the very liberal and unbiblical “Jesus Seminar” hosted by Peter Jennings came to the conclusion that Jesus was indeed a real historical person who lived in Israel and was killed by the Romans for political reasons.

      I will be interested to hear where those contradictions occur.

      Mike

  7. wintermute permalink
    March 19, 2009 2:06 pm

    I only state that evolutionary scientists have declared them to be ‘early man’ in some form or other. The conclusions listed for these fossils were well stated, ‘we’re not really sure exactly what these are…could be a chimp, could be an orangutan…could be a forerunner of humans…

    Is there any doubt whatsoever that H. erectus is an extinct human? No, there is not. The only doubt (and it’s a slim one) is whether or not it’s directly ancestral to modern humans, or we’re descended from a sister species.

    In the case of H. neanterthalis, they are certainly more closely related to modern humans that to any other species, living or extinct, though they don’t appear to be our direct ancestors.

    There’s no way that either of these two species, however, is anything other than an extinct human, and no-one who has looked at the evidence says otherwise. They are most certainly not chimps or other apes.

    And regardless of the countless papers written on these subjects, they still are rife with ‘could have, may have, might have.’

    Considering that you’ve not actually read the papers, it’s somewhat presumptuous of you to claim you know what they say, isn’t it? Some researchers are cautious and couch even the most compelling conclusions in conditional language, because they recognise that they’re only human and can make mistakes. Others will state that something is definitely true. Linguistic caution does not always correlate to uncertainty.

    But, yes, there are arguments over exactly where some of the species fit on the tree. That they form part of a tree, however, is not in any serious doubt. Just because a seven-million-year-old fossil might be a human-chimp ancestor or might be a gorilla ancestor does not change the fact that it’s a seven-million-year-old fossil of an extinct ape.

    It also says nothing about the many other lines of evidence we have that say that humans and other apes are closely related.

    You spoke of the census of Quirinius. There is no such animal. The biblical account declares (From the Gospel of Luke 2:1-3) 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. This was a Roman Edict straight from Caesar Augustus for the purposes of numbering the people, and increasing tax revenues for the Circus in Rome. I mean, somebody’s got to pay for it and it ain’t gonna be us Romans. This was the purpose of the census.

    Except that the first empire-wide census was issued by Hadrian in 22AD. The Census of Quirinius is well known to historians as covering the territories of Syria and Judea (and only those territories) in 6 or 7 AD.

    Augustus conducted censuses of Rome three times (none while Quirenius was in Judea), but they only covered the City and provinces of Rome, not the outlying territory of the empire. They would not have been noticed in Judea.

    However, the point is that, despite what the Bible claims, the Romans never required people to go to a different city in order to be counted: they didn’t care where your grandfather had lived but only where you were going to be earning money and paying taxes. Why should they bother collating the information, working out which city to send it all to, and getting it where it needed to go to? What would be to stop someone from lying about what they did for a living, how much they earned, or even what city they lived in when there was no way for the censor to check? For that matter, why would anyone leave their homes and livelihood just so they could pay taxes on a farm or a shop that might not even be there when they got back?

    They Romans weren’t stupid, and they never required people to spend more than a couple of hours getting to the censor, and they made sure that the information started and ended where it would do most good.

    The claim that the census required people to return to their ancestral home for no good reason simply contradicts everything we know about Roman censuses in general, and the Census of Quirenius in particular.

    And this is documented fact, not heresay by a bunch of blind Christians who will not accept truth.

    Feel free to point me towards documents that demonstrate that Augustus ever surveyed the whole empire, that one of his surveys was during the governorship of Quirenius, or that the censors ever made things needlessly difficult for themselves by requiring people to register other than where they lived.

    There are over 24000 pieces of manuscript evidence for the Bible, Old Testament and New. Those who transcribed/transfered the data from one Papyrus scroll to another when the older Papyrus wore out had strict rules concerning transcription.

    If we grant that the Bible was faithfully copied from manuscript to manuscript, where does that get us? It is the same today (except for possible translation errors, which can’t be caught in such a mechanical fashion) as the original documents, which were written fifty or a hundred years after the fact, by people who weren’t there, based on other documents we no longer have.

    However, the copying process can’t have been quite as inerrant as you claim, as we have some of the earlier (but certainly not earliest) manuscripts, and we can see significant differences. 1 John 5:7, for example, first appeared in the 5th Century, and didn’t become universal until the 8th. Luke 23:34 appears in some Septuagint manuscripts, but not in others. It’s solidly in the Vulgate, though. In the earliest manuscripts, Mark ends with chapter 16 verse 8. Verses 9-20 were a later addition that seems to have suck past this very precise counting of words. How did they miss twelve whole verses?

    Even as early as 240 AD, Origen complained that the Bible had been corrupted by the negligence of its copyists. And as an archivist and historian responsible for overseeing the copying process (not that I mean to imply there was a single authority copying bibles; every church copied their own as they needed to, but Origen oversaw a significant amount of the copying), he really ought to have known.

    See The Text of the New Testament: Its transmission, corruption, and restoration by Metzger for an excellent analysis of the copying errors that have snuck into the Bible.

    Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest manuscript evidence we had was from 800-900 A.D. But after the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, the manuscript evidence now stood at 150 B.C. And interestingly there was very little if any variation in the documents. And none of the variations that were found, changed the meaning of the texts that we have today.

    We had had manuscripts dating back to the 3rd Century or so the Codex Vaticanus, for example). Yes, the Dead Sea Scrolls are older, and those books they have in common with the surviving Old Testament are fairly similar (but not identical, so obviously the ultra-precise copying procedure broke down at times). However, the real surprise was in what books they considered biblical.

    The Dead Sea Scroll, like the Massoritic Bible, included a completely different set of books from those that are today considered canon. The book of Ester was not included, for example, and the Book of New Jerusalem and the Community Scroll are not found in modern bibles.

    So, the earliest assembled copies of Judaic texts are of wildly different collections of books from what we use today. Early church historians (approximately coterminous with our earliest existing manuscripts) complained that the Bible had been butchered by inaccurate copies, and the earliest manuscripts we have show significant differences from their modern translations.

    And, as I say, even if none of this was true, and every letter had been carefully preserved from the original documents, would this have any bearing on whether or not they were factual reports of events? It’s hard to see how it would.

    Couple this internal evidence with the external evidence found in say, the Assyrian Eponym List which corroborates biblical accounts and you have a pretty reliable history book. This only one example of an extant document that corroborates scripture. Their are others.

    I’m aware of the eponym lists, but I’m hardly an expert on them; what events in the Bible are also mentioned in the lists?

    That the Old Testament is capable of recording that battles happened, or kings existed, I will accept as a given. Just as I accept that the city of Troy and Prince Paris (as detailed in the Illiad) were historically real, but still doubt that gods fought in the Siege of Troy.

    Then there is the fact that the person of Jesus Christ split time from B.C. (Before Christ) to A.D. (Anno Domini or the year of our Lord) Pretty interesting if the man didn’t exist.

    Yeah, how amazing is it that, in the 6th Century, the Catholic Church would use the (approximate, calculated, wrong by at least 5 years) time of the birth of Jesus as the starting point for their calendar? The calendar they designed entirely to more accurately track Easter, so they could celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at the correct time. I am astounded and flabbergasted by the coincidence that Christians would consider Jesus’ birth to be of such importance.

    I guess the fact that the Middle East uses a calendar that counts from the birth of Mohammed is equally significant, no?

    Even the very liberal and unbiblical “Jesus Seminar” hosted by Peter Jennings came to the conclusion that Jesus was indeed a real historical person who lived in Israel and was killed by the Romans for political reasons.

    And there are plenty of Biblical scholars who believe that Jesus was a mythic, rather than historical, figure. There’s a paucity of evidence from which to draw a solid conclusion in either direction. But assuming that Jesus was a historical figure and is the basis for the gospels as collected in the modern Bible, it says nothing about whether or not he worked miracles or was the son of god.

    The only sources we have of Jesus’ life are the Gospels (the majority of which the average Christian rejects as heretical). My personal belief is that there was no such person, though I accept that this is a belief held without evidence, and so is very tentative. If you can point me to an extrabiblical reference to Jesus as a person, then I will happily change my mind.

    • March 20, 2009 9:44 pm

      Wintermute; here is a list of 9 documented external references to the historicity of Jesus Christ as an actual historical figure.

      Cornelius Tacitus Born 52 or 54 A.D.
      Roman Historian, Governor of Asia, son-in-law of Julius Agricola who was Governor of Britain. He stated:
      “Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to torture-stakes, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.”

      Lucian of Samosata a satirist of the second century who spoke scornfully of Christ and the Christians. He connected the with the synagogues of Palestine and alluded to Christ in “The Passing Peregrinus.” as: “…the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult …furthermore their first lawgiver persuaded them that they were all brothers one of another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshiping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws.”

      Flavius Josephus, the Jewish Historian, born in A.D. 37 referred to Jesus in his Antiquities xviii.33. While the “He was the Christ” phrase is in dispute, the reference to Jesus Himself as an actual historical figure is not. The Arabic version also has a disputable statement “He was perhaps the Messiah” which is in dispute but again, the reference to Jesus is not.

      Plinus Secundus; Pliny The Younger; Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor (A.D. 112.) Here in “Epistles X.96” Pliny is writing to Emperor Trajan seeking council as to how to treat Christians.
      “It is a rule, Sir, which I inviolably observe, to refer myself to you in all my doubts; for who is more capable of guiding my uncertainty or informing my ignorance? Having never been present at any trials of the Christians, I am unacquainted with the method and limits to be observed either in examining or punishing them. Whether any difference is to be allowed between the youngest and the adult; whether repentance admits to a pardon, or if a man has been once a Christian it avails him nothing to recant; whether the mere profession of Christianity, albeit without crimes, or only the crimes associated therewith are punishable — in all these points I am greatly doubtful.” In the meanwhile, the method I have observed towards those who have denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were Christians; if they confessed it I repeated the question twice again, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. For whatever the nature of their creed might be, I could at least feel not doubt that contumacy and inflexible obstinacy deserved chastisement. There were others also possessed with the same infatuation, but being citizens of Rome, I directed them to be carried thither.

      These accusations spread (as is usually the case) from the mere fact of the matter being investigated and several forms of the mischief came to light. A placard was put up, without any signature, accusing a large number of persons by name. Those who denied they were, or had ever been, Christians, who repeated after me an invocation to the gods, and offered adoration, with wine and frankincense, to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for that purpose, together with those of the gods, and who finally cursed Christ — none of which acts, it is into performing — these I thought it proper to discharge. Others who were named by that informer at first confessed themselves Christians, and then denied it; true, they had been of that persuasion but they had quitted it, some three years, others many years, and a few as much as twenty-five years ago. They all worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, and cursed Christ.

      They affirmed, however, the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food — but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. Even this practice, however, they had abandoned after the publication of my edict, by which, according to your orders, I had forbidden political associations. I judged it so much the more necessary to extract the real truth, with the assistance of torture, from two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses: but I could discover nothing more than depraved and excessive superstition.

      I therefore adjourned the proceedings, and betook myself at once to your counsel. For the matter seemed to me well worth referring to you, especially considering the numbers endangered. Persons of all ranks and ages, and of both sexes are, and will be, involved in the prosecution. For this contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread through the villages and rural districts; it seems possible, however, to check and cure it.
      Suetonius (A.D. 120) was a court official under Hadrian. He states “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (another spelling of Christus which is Greek for Christ) He expelled them from Rome.” (Life of Claudius 25.4

      Justin Martyr 150 A.D. Dialog against Trypho: Chapter 108. The resurrection of Christ did not convert the Jews. But through the whole world they have sent men to accuse Christ:
      Justin: And though all the men of your nation knew the incidents in the life of Jonah, and though Christ said among you that He would give the sign of Jonah, exhorting you to repent of your wicked deeds at least after He rose again from the dead, and to mourn before God as did the Ninevites, in order that your nation and city might not be taken and destroyed, as they have been destroyed; yet you not only have not repented, after you learned that He rose from the dead, but, as I said before you have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilæan deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. Moreover, you accuse Him of having taught those godless, lawless, and unholy doctrines which you mention to the condemnation of those who confess Him to be Christ, and a Teacher from and Son of God. Besides this, even when your city is captured, and your land ravaged, you do not repent, but dare to utter imprecations on Him and all who believe in Him. Yet we do not hate you or those who, by your means, have conceived such prejudices against us; but we pray that even now all of you may repent and obtain mercy from God, the compassionate and long-suffering Father of all.

      Tertullian Jurist Theologian of Carthage (A.D. 197) Epistles X.96 6C TERTULLIAN Jurist-theologian of Carthage, in a defense of Christianity before the Roman authorities in Africa, mentions the exchange between Tiberius and Pontius Pilate:
      “Tiberius accordingly, in those days the Christians name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favor of Christ. The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all the accusers of the Christians” (Apology, V.2)

      THALLAS, THE SAMARITAN-BORN HISTORIAN
      One of the first Gentile writers who mentions Christ is Thallus, who wrote in 52 A.D. However, his writings have disappeared and we only know of them from fragments cited by other writers. One such writer is Julius Africanus, a Christian writer about 221 A.D. One very interesting passage relates to a comment from Thallus. Julius Africanus writes:
      “‘Thallus, in the third book of his histories, explains away this darkness as an eclipse of the sun – unreasonably, as it seems to me’ (unreasonably, of course, because a solar eclipse could not take place at the time of the full moon, and it was at the season of the Paschal full moon that Christ died).” Thus, from this reference we see that the Gospel account of the darkness which fell upon the land during Christ’s crucifixion was well known and required a naturalistic explanation from those non-believers who witnessed it.

      PHLEGON, A FIRST CENTURY HISTORIAN His Chronicles have been lost, but a small fragment of that work, which confirms the darkness upon the earth at the crucifixion, is also mentioned by Julius Africanus. After his (Africanus’) remarks about Thallus’ unreasonable opinion of the darkness, he quotes Phlegon that
      “during the time of Tiberius Caesar an eclipse of the sun occurred during the full moon.”7/IIB, sect. 256 f16, p. 1165 Phlegon is also mentioned by Origen in Contra Celsum, Book 2, sections 14, 33, 59. Philopon (De.opif.mund.II21) says:”And about this darkness…Phlegon recalls it in the Olympiads (the title of his history).” He says that “Phlegon mentioned the eclipse which took place during the crucifixion of the Lord Christ, and no other (eclipse), it is clear that he did not known from his sources about any (similar) eclipse in previous times…and this is shown by the historical account itself of Tiberius Caesar.”4/II B, sect.257 f16,c, p.1165

      LETTER OF MARA BAR-SERAPION F.F. Bruce records that there is: “…in the British Museum an interesting manuscript preserving the text of a letter written some time later than A.D. 73, but how much later we cannot be sure. This letter was sent by a Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion to his son Serapion. Mara Bar-Serapion was in prison at the time, but he wrote to encourage his son in the pursuit of wisdom, and pointed out that those who persecuted wise men were overtaken by misfortune. He instances the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras and Christ:
      “‘What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good; He lived on in the teaching which He had given.'”2/114 10C.

  8. wintermute permalink
    March 23, 2009 12:22 pm

    These are not documentary evidence of the historicity of Christ; they attest that, in the 2nd or 3rd Century AD there existed Christians who believed that Jesus had been a real historical figure. This is not the same thing, as I would have thought you’d have realised.

    The works “preserved” by Sextus Julius Africanus (whose writings no longer exist but are cited by Eusebius of Caesaria in the 4th Century) are now generally considered to have been invented whole-cloth by Christians (either Africanus or Eusebius) as apologia.

    There are two documents you mention that actually bear some investigation: Josephus and Bar Seraphon; all others are simply evidence that Christians, centuries after the fact, believed that Jesus was a historical figure, which is hardly compelling proof that he really was.

    The line in Josephus is now almost universally accepted as a later addition, not present in the original text. Scholarly opinion differs on whether it was added as a deliberate attempt to provide support for a historical Jesus, or if it was simply a marginalia providing some historical context for the surrounding passages that a copyist mistook for an addition to be made. Either way, it certainly does not fit in with the rest of the book (a long explanation why each of these claimed Jewish messiahs cannot be the true King Born in the East, who Josephus believed was obviously the Emperor Vespasian); not only does it refute his main point and then get ignored for the rest of the book, but the grammar and word choice are unlike everything else Joshephus has written.

    Bar-Seraphon, as I’m sure you noticed, doesn’t actually mention Jesus, referring instead to the “wise king”, and treating him in the same context as Pythagoras and Socrates, who died 500 years earlier. Include the long view he takes, about the fate of the Jews after the death of their “wise king”, and it seems obvious that he is writing, in all cases, of ancient history. If we assign this letter an early date, that he might have been an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, he is certainly not talking about Jesus, as the Diaspora which started in AD70 did not include even a majority of Jews until AD120, at least. If we assign a later late (and he might have been writing as late as AD400), then this is not evidence that a real, historical Jesus ever existed.

    I can cite documentary proof that people living today believe that Sherlock Holmes was a real, historical figure. Would you take that as proof that they’re right?

    • March 23, 2009 5:35 pm

      Hey wintermute.

      Actually these documents do establish the historicity of Christ. Josephus mentions Jesus in his history and the only line in question is the statement, “He was the Messiah.” Josephus being a Jewish Priest probably wouldn’t say such a thing and there is no evidence that he was an undercover Christian. He, like most Jews would have rejected Christ as their messiah because he didn’t fit the pharisaical mold of conquering king but rather came as Isaiah’s suffering servant. Isaiah, incidentally, wrote in the 8th century B.C. The fact is that Josephus mentions Jesus the man. And even if we were to take the later Septuragint writings, (ordered by decree of Ptolmais Philadelphus) the prophesy stands at at least 250 years before Christ. Couple this with the facts that, rather than 50 to 100 years after the fact, the first Gospel (Mark) was actually written 25 years after the resurrection of Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote his first letter in A.D 52, just 20 years after the resurrection.

      Tacitus, writing around or so A.D was a Roman Senator and Historian. Again, no evidence of Christian colussion here. Tacitus simply states historical facts, that: “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

      Pliny the Younger, a Roman Governor had nothing to gain by the mention of Christ. Indeed in his writings he states that he was killing Christians, because they were Christians. He was actually writing to the Emperor for direction in how to deal with these pesky Christians who wouldn’t deny their faith even if it meant death.

      The documents supplied by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle where he speaks of the creation of his famous character can easily refute the claims by those who believe in the actual historicity of Sherlock Holmes.

      The problem as I see it is the Bible itself. People would more readliy accept the book of Mormon or the Koran or something else rather than the Bible with all of its absolutes. But consider the fact that nobody really has a problem with the writings of Socrates, (469 BC–399 BC) Plato (428/427 BC or 348/347 BC the dates are in dispute ),or Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC). They don’t deny that these men existed and point to their writings and the impact these writings have made in the world.

      The Bible makes extraordinary claims…Jesus made extraordinary claims. And yet when you look at the accuracy of history as it is declared in the bible and supported by archeology and when you consider the fact that the prophesies of the bible have come true thus far without one error you have an extraordinary book whose author is none other than God.

      But it is in our ‘post modern’ world where ‘absolutes’ are thrown out in favor of the popular view, it is easy to engage in historical revisionism to support ones own truth claims.This is refered to in the bible as ‘doing what is right in our own eyes.” THe bible also says that all men know the truth but rather than accept the truth which would interfere with them living their own lives, they suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

      The bible reveals the nasty people we are and nobody likes to be told that they are nasty. We would rather believe Maslow’s idea that men are naturally good and perfectable. Instead of being naturally evil we would rather hear Carl Rogers idea that “There is no basis for evil in the world.”

      But the truth is that we are evil. We do nasty things…all men do nasty things to some degree or another. Then we try to justify ourselves by saying “I’m not as bad as so and so.” God declares that all men are guilty before Him because they have not measured up to the standard that He set as the creator of all men. And since we could not be perfect, God came to the earth and lived a perfect life in our place and then died a perfect sacrificial death in our place and then He rose from the dead for our justification. This is the greatest demonstration of love ever.

      And consider this; Jesus died for people who were His enemies. Paul was killing Christians before Jesus met Him on the road to Damascus where he had planned to gather up some more of those pesky Christ followers. But God had mercy on Paul and made him a new person with a new heart. And Paul did an about face. It was said of him, “He who was persecuting the church is now preaching Jesus.”

      He changed my life! I was an enemy of Christ! Action speaks louder than words and my life spoke volumes. I wasn’t killing Christians but my life demonstrated a hatred for God and His commandments. My profanity disgusted people to the point that a Greyhound bus driver told me that if I didn’t shut up, he would throw me off the bus. In fact, many times disgusted myself with what came out of my mouth. But God had mercy on me and made me a new person with a new heart and now I, who was once terrified to speak in public except to swear, am a preachar of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

      Does this make me better than anyone else? NOT AT ALL! I know who I am and what I am capable of apart from God’s saving grace. Do I claim that my way is the only way? No. God did that! It is these claims of exclusivity that really cause problems for people. The facts, the documented evidence for God and His truth, and His redemption are in.

  9. wintermute permalink
    March 24, 2009 12:42 pm

    Josephus mentions Jesus in his history and the only line in question is the statement, “He was the Messiah.” Josephus being a Jewish Priest probably wouldn’t say such a thing and there is no evidence that he was an undercover Christian.

    Um, no. The fact that this single sentence is the only addition is a tiny minority opinion, held by far less than 1% of biblical historians. The vast majority, even of Christian theologians, believe that the entire passage [“About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not cease. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life. For the prophets of God had prophesied these and myriads of other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still up to now, not disappeared.”] is intertextural and was not written by Joesphus, but by Christian editors in the 3rd or 4th Century.

    Tacitus, writing around or so A.D was a Roman Senator and Historian. Again, no evidence of Christian colussion here.

    Tacitus reports on the beliefs of Christians. This is why he gets Pilate’s rank wrong; he’s not doing any research himself, but just writing down what the Christians told him. They told him they believed in a historical Jesus, and he wrote that down.

    Pliny the Younger, a Roman Governor had nothing to gain by the mention of Christ. Indeed in his writings he states that he was killing Christians, because they were Christians. He was actually writing to the Emperor for direction in how to deal with these pesky Christians who wouldn’t deny their faith even if it meant death.

    Again, Pliny writes that there are Christians who believed in a historical Christ. And he writes that they would all deny their faith, if the alternative was death:

    Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ — none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do — these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.

    The documents supplied by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle where he speaks of the creation of his famous character can easily refute the claims by those who believe in the actual historicity of Sherlock Holmes.

    Can they? Can you be sure that Sherlock Holmes was not based on a real person, even if ACD denied it, perhaps because the original had requested anonymity?

    But that’s not the point. What if future historians find the writings of the believers in Sherlock Holmes (or the writings of people who interviewed such people), but not the writings of ACD? What conclusion would they draw?

    The problem as I see it is the Bible itself. People would more readliy accept the book of Mormon or the Koran or something else rather than the Bible with all of its absolutes. But consider the fact that nobody really has a problem with the writings of Socrates, (469 BC–399 BC) Plato (428/427 BC or 348/347 BC the dates are in dispute ),or Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC). They don’t deny that these men existed and point to their writings and the impact these writings have made in the world.

    And, equally, no-one denies the existence of Paul, or that he wrote at least half of the epistles that are attributed to him. Many (but not all) biblical historians (specifically speaking of the atheists and Jews) accept that there was a historical Jesus, and that he’s had an impact on the world. Personally, I don’t think he existed, but I also don’t think it makes any difference.

    The Bible makes extraordinary claims…Jesus made extraordinary claims. And yet when you look at the accuracy of history as it is declared in the bible and supported by archeology and when you consider the fact that the prophesies of the bible have come true thus far without one error you have an extraordinary book whose author is none other than God.

    See, this would have been a good place to start.

    Which prophesies have come true? Ideally, of course, we’ll want confirmation from outside of the Bible, for obvious reasons.

    Can we be sure that the prophesy was written before it came about, or that there could be no other interpretations, such that it might have come true, no matter what?

    This should be a nice, easy place for you to prove how accurate and supernaturally inspired the bible is, and I look forward to getting something I can get my teeth into.

    Thanks.

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