Friday, January 02, 2009

Fun with Christians

So, thanks to another blog with the fascinating name of Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes, I stumbled across a post by a guy named Ray Comfort. Now, Ray, in some kind of weird Christian version of cynicism (which is, after all, my job, not his), calls his blog "Athieist Central" (can he be sued for false advertising?).

Anyway, his was a Chistmas Day post wherein he tried to establish that you can't prove that Darwin existed, any more than you can prove that Jesus existed.

No, I'm serious. He did. I was stunned, too. And his "arguments" were just sad.

1. There’s no corpse, because it decayed away - just a skeleton.

2. Comparing the DNA of the corpse to the DNA of his descendants, and to the DNA of a hair sample from his desk wouldn't work, because Comfort wouldn't accept that it was Darwin's. "Also, how do you know that those who claim to be his descendents are actually his offspring, without having faith in genealogical records?"

3. Same problem with photographs, books, papers and other evidence. He'd just say you can't prove it was actually Darwin. Just somebody claiming to be Darwin.

And the sad part is, there are undoubtedly people who think that argument is effective. So, of course, I posted a reply. I can't help myself.
So your "evidence" consists of just saying "No, you're wrong" to every piece of evidence pulled up? What are you? Three years old? They have evidence to prove Darwin existed. You have only belief that Jesus did. So which is it, Ray? Are you an idiot, or a three-year-old?

Oh, and two things, Ray. Your first line and (almost) your last.

Watch how atheists avoid answering this--there's good reason for their silence.
As I write this, there's 103 responses. Oops.

But 2,000 years after His death and resurrection, I can introduce you to Him. There’s my empirical proof.
Really, Ray?

empirical adj derived from experiment and observation rather than theory.
When you have no idea what the word means, you probably shouldn't use it.
And then, just because I hadn't annoyed enough people yet, I hit some guy calling himself "Da Bomb," who wrote ".... it sounds like you've made up your mind already, you want evidence that prooves something or else you WON'T call it evidence. The Bible's account is evidence and the article I gave you before. To reject it entirely would be willfully ignorant."

So I thought I'd tick him off, too.By getting all fact-based on his ass.
Da Bomb:
You said: "The Bible's account is evidence and the article I gave you before. To reject it entirely would be willfully ignorant."

Well, there's your problem right there. In fact, it's the difference between science and religion. Science, taken as an overarching field (rather than the specific specialties), calls upon s specific, proven set of fact libraries. It has proven, evidence-based fact that it can call upon.

In contrast to that, Religion (again, taken as a large field, and not any of the specific denominations) draws upon a variety of texts, some of which conflict openly with others. For purposes of this discussion, let's restrict ourselves to Christianity, just because it narrows the playing field a bit.

Now, your first argument comes in with which version of the "Old Testament" you're using. Do you accept the Septuagint translation, or do you go with the more common Masoretic text? Let's assume that you're going with the Masoretic text. You then ignore the Apocryphal or deuterocanonical books?

Remember, the Roman Catholic Church recognizes Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and Greek additions to Esther and Daniel. The Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches recognize 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh and Psalm 151.

Some other Eastern Orthodox Churches include a few others, like 2 Esdras and Odes. The Syriac Orthodox Church have The Apocalypse of Baruch and the Letter of Baruch. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has a few of their own, too, such as Jubilees and Enoch.

The Anglican Church, having been established by Henry VIII to allow him to divorce his wives, uses some of the Apocryphal books liturgically, but not as doctrine. So the Anglican Bible includes the Deuterocanonical books accepted by the Catholic church, plus 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, which were in the Vulgate appendix.

There's also 4 Maccabees, which is only accepted as canonical in the Georgian Church, but was included by St. Jerome in an appendix to the Vulgate (and in an appendix to the Greek Orthodox Bible), so it's sometimes included in collections of the Apocrypha.

But then we have the New Testament. Most Christian sects accept pretty much the same 27 books, but there's little issues. Revelations, for example, is both accepted and disputed, depending on who you ask. (Which makes sense - it reads like it was written by some hippie dropping acid in the desert.)

Which leads us to the New Testament apocrypha. Only the Ethiopian Orthodox Church recognizes the Shepherd of Hermas, 1 Clement and the Acts of Paul. The Syriac Peshitta, used by all the various Syrian Churches, originally did not include 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Revelations; Western Syrians have added the remaining 5 books to their canon more recently, but the official lectionaries for the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Syrian Church still present lessons from only the original (22 book) Peshitta. The Armenian Apostolic church has occasionally included the Third Epistle to the Corinthians, but does not always list it with the other 27 books; they also didn't accept Revelations into its Bible until about 800 years ago. The New Testament of the Coptic Bible (which is used by the Egyptian Church) includes the two Epistles of Clement.

And that doesn't even deal with translation problems. Nor does it touch on the various infancy gospels, the Jewish Christian gospels (the Gospels of the Hebrews, of the Nazarenes, or the Ebionites, for example), the Gospel of Thomas, the Passion Gospels, or any of the Gnostic texts.

So, when you try to say that the Bible proves anything, first you have to establish which Bible you're chosing to use.
I don't know why I don't get invited to more parties...

1 comment:

Adamgv said...

Check out this new Christian band that just released their first album.

From what I heard on the samples site, they sound really good.

Introducing the new Christian National Anthem: Guns & Jesus.