Waves Come Crashing Down Finale

Is the final objection from a critic really that powerful? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters!

We’re going to be looking at the final claims of a critic. One major argument will be dealt with as well as some bonus arguments. Let’s look at the first one.

“7)…100% FACT: no on duty judge, jury, prosecutor, defense attorney, or court would accept what we have of the gospels as evidence for anyone in the bible …RED FLAG!!!!”

None whatsoever? This must be news to lawyers and attorneys and such who are Christians and it would have been news to legal writers of the past and of the present who treat the gospels from a legal standpoint. There is an entire field of legal apologetics. An excellent example of that can be found here.

Of course, the main deal is that these are not legal documents but are historical documents and therefore should be treated by the standards of history. How will a historian look at the claim? Our critic unfortunately has no clue on such a topic. Let’s see this further by looking at the bonus facts.

“Bonus 100% FACT: the Jewish Dead Sea Scrolls (written before, during, and after 4 BCE to 30 AD) knows nothing of the NT Jesus or his disciples (the NT Jesus simply don’t exist in them) …RED FLAG!!!! ”

This is not news to anyone. Why should the Qumran community care about someone going through the “pagan” territory (seeing as they didn’t care anything for the temple complex) and supposedly being the Messiah? Since he was executed on a cross, that’s all the more reason to not waste time with him.

“Bonus 100% FACT: 4 BCE to 30 AD, worldwide, (far as what we have in our hands) is void of the NT Jesus …RED FLAG!!!!”

And very little of ancient history is written while the person being written about is still alive. Again, why should anyone have written anything when oral communication worked so well to get the word out seeing as few people could read?

What can we say about all of this in reply?

It is often said that Christians are too often ignorant of their faith and believe blindly. I agree. Yet let it not be said that atheists are not often in the same boat. Some here might be surprised to think that our critic thinks he is so powerful that he can take on names like Habermas, Licona, Zacharias, Copan, etc. One might speak aught against these people all one wants, but one should be willing to grant they at least have some knowledge of what they speak.

A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Unfortunately in our day and age, everyone on the internet thinks they’re an expert. Anyone can write a blog and anyone can make a YouTube channel and be seen as an authority.

Some might say that I have a blog and I have a show.

That is true.

Do I think I know what I’m talking about? Yep. I do. Personally, I think everyone does or else they wouldn’t talk about it.

I ask that you be willing to check what I say. In fact, I can guarantee you some things you read on my blog or hear on my show will be incorrect. Why? Because I’m not perfect. I’m bound to make some mistakes from time to time. No scholar out there is infallible. I dare not suggest to you that you treat my writings the way Scripture should be.

That is a key difference. Someone who cares about truth is open to being wrong and does real research before making a claim. I strongly suspect most atheists I encounter online have not really read the other side that much nor do they make the questions in seeking answers. They only want to embarrass.

Lesson for today. Don’t be like this critic. If you want to be an atheist, be an atheist! Just be informed in your atheism. I in fact have more respect for an informed atheist than I do an uninformed Christian. At least the atheist I am sure is taking the issues seriously.

Do the same. Take the issues seriously and know whichever side you fall on, you know why you have and can make a case why that does actually interact with the other side.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

JPH’s treatment of this can be found here.

Waves Come Crashing Down Part 6

Can our rabid skeptic get any worse? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

It’s been awhile since we’ve continued these series as other pressing issues came up, but now it’s time to return to look at the great red flag that our skeptic, who does not deserve to be named, has brought forward.

“6)…100% FACT: we have nothing close to an original of any gospel book (besides a single fragment from the 1st century and a dozen or so from the 2nd century one has to around 200 AD before we get any real readings from the gospels) …RED FLAG!!!!”

We eagerly await to find how this standard will be met in other works of ancient history. Do we have an original of Tacitus? Not at all. In fact, we know from what we have that some of the material that Tacitus wrote is missing, yet what we have is seen as accurate. Those who have seen the charts on the NT in comparison to other ancient works know that the NT stands out above the others.

For the NT, we have more copies of the manuscripts than we do any other work. We have more copies in more languages. We have more copies in more languages closer to the time that they were written than we do any other ancient work. In fact, the textual evidence we have for the NT is best described as “an embarrassment of riches.”

Of course, this does not mean anything per se about the content of the NT. That a work has been handed down accurately does not mean that the content of that work is thereby true. Unfortunately, I have seen several who have made this claim, but I have not seen anyone who is an apologist making this sort of argument. It is a straw man that is put forward by skeptics.

If our critic wishes to make much of this kind of claim, then we need to see why it is that he can accept the accounts of Plutarch, Tacitus, Polybius, or any other ancient work as being handed down accurately when we do not have the evidence that we do for the NT with them.

Our critic could also bear to read some works on textual criticism. In fact, even those who are already Christians should read some works on textual criticism. Of course, for the skeptical side, there is Bart Ehrman and anyone who is wanting to get to read both sides should read Ehrman, but there should be other works that are read.

For instance, one could read “A Student’s Guide To Textual Criticism of the Bible” by Paul Wegner. In fact, if I could just recommend one book on the topic, this would be it. Other works include those by Metzger on textual criticism and The Reliability of the New Testament edited by Stewart which features a debate between Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace, who is one of the leading if not THE leading conservative NT textual critic today.

We also recommend the work of JPH on this same objection here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Waves Come Crashing Down Part 5

Has the new wave come to a crash again? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Dealing with our opponent with massive hubris once again, we come across this claim:

“5)…100% FACT: the gospels are overflowing (jam packed) with what we call SCI-FI material (like superhero comic books) (voice coming from the sky, a guy floating up into the heavens, zombies breaking from their graves and marching into a major city, a flesh and bone man vanishing into thin air [puff, gone], etc, etc, etc) …RED FLAG!!!!”

This is simply an argument from credulity. The argument goes like this.

The gospels contain events considered miraculous.
Miraculous events do not happen.
Therefore, the gospels are not historical.

If this were the case, this would be a good argument, but the problem is that this has not been shown to be the case. It has not been shown that miraculous events do not happen. Someone could say “I have never seen good evidence” but that only means that they have never seen it. It does not mean that no one ever has, and considering after Keener’s research there are numerous claims all around the world, no one can say that there are no longer being claimed today miracles, which would mean at least some people claim to have evidence.

So where are we going to go to see if miracles do not happen?

The first place most people go to today is the sciences, but this plan will not work. Someone can believe in the sciences fully and still believe in miracles. Why? The sciences only tell you what will happen if there is no interference from another agent outside the chain of events. They cannot tell you that there can be no interference.

In fact, to believe in miracles, one must have a basic idea of science. Now of course, the ancients did not know all about science that we do, but they did know some facts that we would not contest. They knew it took sex to make a baby. They knew it took an object like a boat to move on water. They knew that water does not suddenly turn to wine on its own.. They knew dead people stay dead.

In fact, this is how they recognized a miracle had taken place. This was an event outside of the ordinary that they had no explanation for. In fact, we today still have no explanation for many of these events. Imagine being a doctor verifying that your patient was dead and had been dead for a number of hours and then come some Christians wanting to pray anyway. You grant them their request figuring “What can be the harm?” and lo and behold, the dead patient comes back to life and moves around on his own and is in good health.

Would you be justified in thinking a miracle had taken place?

Now do you have to abandon atheism to be open to miracles? Not at all! Of course, finding a miracle could make you abandon it, but at this point, all you need is a non-dogmatic approach to miracles. You can say all you want “I’m skeptical of miracles, but I want to keep an open mind.” Of course, you also want to make sure that you don’t stack the deck way too high. All that is needed is sufficient evidence.

Another place to go to would be history. Does history show that miracles have taken place?

Unfortunately, the problem is that usually our metaphysics drives the way our history goes. If you come to the evidence and have as an a priori that miracles cannot happen, then what do you do when you find a miraculous event happening in any piece of literature? Well that can’t be a real event!

There are some miracles in the Bible that one would be at difficulty to demonstrate happened. For instance, did Jesus turn water into wine at the Wedding of Cana? It is highly doubtful we will ever find a drop of wine in Cana still that we can say came from this wedding. We can look at the story and ask on its own some questions.

Is the story in a generally reliable account?
Does it contain anachronisms?
Is it an eyewitness account or does it have an eyewitness source?
Has the story remained unchanged?
What is the length of time between the event and the writing?

We could ask this about several miracles. Was a blind man healed? Did a centurion have his servant healed? Did Jairus’s daughter get raised from the dead? Some of these miracles we might find something that can corroborate them. We could make an archaeological finding that showed someone honored a site where such an event was to take place, but that would not demonstrate the event.

A greater exception to this would be the resurrection of Jesus since we have numerous claims afterwards that need to be explained as well as the rise of the Christian church that needs to be explained. Due to the greater effects of this miracle, there is far more evidence.

So if we look at history and realize our metaphysics is driving us, then the place to go to is our metaphysics. For those who don’t know, metaphysics refers to the study of being as being. Biology studies material being that lives. Physics studies being in motion. Theology studies the being of God. Mathematics studies being in so far as its numeral. Ethics studies being in so far as it is related to the good. Metaphysics studies being as just being.

This gets us into questions of what is the basis for existence, what is existence, and is there any existence outside of our material world? I have written elsewhere on this blog on reasons for believing in God’s existence. (See my posts on the Five Ways of Aquinas.)

If we find that God exists, what is there to stop Him from acting on the natural world? Then this gets us into theology. Why should one choose theism over deism? Yet if there is historical evidence for miracles, such as the resurrection or the works of Keener, then deism has a problem.

Note in fact it could be the case that there have been no miracles in history. It does not mean there can be no miracles in the future. If we say God exists and realize He has not done any miracles yet, it does not mean He never can do them.

In conclusion, the irrefutable fact seems quite refutable. An argument from credulity is not an argument.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

J.P. Holding also replies here.

Wave Comes Crashing Down Part 3 and 4

What shall we find as we turn again to low hanging atheist fruit? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Today, we’ll be looking briefly at two bogus claims. Let’s see the first.

“3)…100% FACT: and these unknown/anonymous/hidden writers blatantly copied each other (or other sources like the alleged Q, L, M documents), virtually word for word in many places …RED FLAG!!!! ”

In some places, yes, they are identical, and this would be the case with a strong oral tradition. In many places, they are not. Yet the gospels were written in a time where there were no plagiarism laws and material that was put out there would be considered the property of the community and thus could be shared. In fact, the gospel writers would want to make sure that it was shared.

Furthermore, our critic says nothing about the times when the writings are quite different. Did God speak to Jesus or to the crowd at the baptism of Jesus? Was Jairus’s daughter dead when he came to Jesus or was she about to die? A good theory of the production of the gospel documents needs to take into account not only the similarities between the accounts, known often as the synoptic problem, but also the differences.

“4)…100% FACT: and worse yet, these unknown/anonymous/hidden writers wrote scenes impossible to eyewitness (like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane) …RED FLAG!!!! ”

The Garden is a poor choice. Personally, I don’t know many people that can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, especially if it was a stressful situation like what was going on. All that would be needed was one disciple to be watching to see what was going on, and that’s entirely plausible, even if as they watched they started to doze off.

Another situation that our critic might have chosen to use could be the trial of Jesus, but this is also faulty. Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that none of the disciples were privy to what happened at the trial of Jesus. Does that mean there would be no record?

Not at all! In fact, a strong case can be made that Joseph of Arimathea did in fact bury Jesus. If so, could he not have been a witness to what happened at the trial of Jesus? What about Nicodemus? Is it possible he might have been a witness to what happened?

Noteworthy is that our critic also has not interacted with the latest research on this, such as Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.” The pitfall of our critic is that he has no idea on how history is done and instead bases his arguments on credulity, which is simply circular reasoning.

Let this be an example to critics everywhere. There is nothing wrong with being skeptical of the accounts in the gospels. That’s in fact understandable. They contain quite incredible claims. What is wrong is having a hyperskepticism that only the most unreasonable of conditions must be met before one accepts the claims that are found in them. Do real history. Treat them like any other document and see what happens.

J.P. Holding’s critiques can be found here

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Waves Come Crashing Down Part 2

Do bad arguments make a big splash? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Moving on with our obnoxious atheist, we find this statement next:

“100% FACT: not only are the gospels anonymously written, but they are written in the 3rd person (deepening the anonymity of these unknown ancient authors) …RED FLAG!!!!”

The reality is many works in the ancient world were written anonymously. We know who wrote them from other sources, such as is the case with Plutarch. If the only ones we knew about were the ones who put their name on, we would not know much. Furthermore, even with a name on a work, there’s still dispute. Not all Platonic dialogues are said to be by Plato. Some NT scholars don’t accept the Pastorals as Pauline even though Paul’s name is on them. Most would not accept that Thomas wrote the Gospel of Thomas.

In reality, this objection is old. It goes back to Augustine in Contra Faustum. Let’s start with the objection of Faustus found in 17.1. (My great thanks to Tim McGrew for his vast knowledge of this subject and sharing it.)

“1. Faustus said: You ask why we do not receive the law and the prophets, when Christ said that he came not to destroy them, but to fulfill them. Where do we learn that Jesus said this? From Matthew, who declares that he said it on the mount. In whose presence was it said? In the presence of Peter, Andrew, James, and John—only these four; for the rest, including Matthew himself, were not yet chosen. Is it not the case that one of these four—John, namely—wrote a Gospel? It is. Does he mention this saying of Jesus? No. How, then, does it happen that what is not recorded by John, who was on the mount, is recorded by Matthew, who became a follower of Christ long after He came down from the mount? In the first place, then, we must doubt whether Jesus ever said these words, since the proper witness is silent on the matter, and we have only the authority of a less trustworthy witness. But, besides this, we shall find that it is not Matthew that has imposed upon us, but some one else under his name, as is evident from the indirect style of the narrative. Thus we read: “As Jesus passed by, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom, and called him; and he immediately rose up, and followed Him.” [Matthew 9:9] No one writing of himself would say, He saw a man, and called him; and he followed Him; but, He saw me, and called me, and I followed Him. Evidently this was written not by Matthew himself, but by some one else under his name. Since, then, the passage already quoted would not be true even if it had been written by Matthew, since he was not present when Jesus spoke on the mount; much more is its falsehood evident from the fact that the writer was not Matthew himself, but some one borrowing the names both of Jesus and of Matthew.”

Augustine replies to this in 17.3 and 17.4

Augustine replied: What amazing folly, to disbelieve what Matthew records of Christ, while you believe Manichæus! If Matthew is not to be believed because he was not present when Christ said, “I came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill,” was Manichæus present, was he even born, when Christ appeared among men? According, then, to your rule, you should not believe anything that Manichæus says of Christ. On the other hand, we refuse to believe what Manichæus says of Christ; not because he was not present as a witness of Christ’s words and actions, but because he contradicts Christ’s disciples, and the Gospel which rests on their authority. The apostle, speaking in the Holy Spirit, tells us that such teachers would arise. With reference to such, he says to believers: “If any man preaches to you another gospel than that you have received, let him be accursed.” [Galatians 1:9] If no one can say what is true of Christ unless he has himself seen and heard Him, no one now can be trusted. But if believers can now say what is true of Christ because the truth has been handed down in word or writing by those who saw and heard, why might not Matthew have heard the truth from his fellow disciple John, if John was present and he himself was not, as from the writings of John both we who are born so long after and those who shall be born after us can learn the truth about Christ? In this way, the Gospels of Luke and Mark, who were companions of the disciples, as well as the Gospel of Matthew, have the same authority as that of John. Besides, the Lord Himself might have told Matthew what those called before him had already been witnesses of.
Your idea is, that John should have recorded this saying of the Lord, as he was present on the occasion. As if it might not happen that, since it was impossible to write all that be heard from the Lord, he set himself to write some, omitting this among others. Does he not say at the close of his Gospel: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written”? [John 21:25] This proves that he omitted many things intentionally. But if you choose John as an authority regarding the law and the prophets, I ask you only to believe his testimony to them. It is John who writes that Isaiah saw the glory of Christ. [John 12:41] It is in his Gospel we find the text already treated of: “If you believed Moses, you would also believe me; for he wrote of me.” [John 5:46] Your evasions are met on every side. You ought to say plainly that you do not believe the gospel of Christ. For to believe what you please, and not to believe what you please, is to believe yourselves, and not the gospel.
4. Faustus thinks himself wonderfully clever in proving that Matthew was not the writer of this Gospel, because, when speaking of his own election, he says not, He saw me, and said to me, Follow me; but, He saw him, and said to him, Follow me. This must have been said either in ignorance or from a design to mislead. Faustus can hardly be so ignorant as not to have read or heard that narrators, when speaking of themselves, often use a construction as if speaking of another. It is more probable that Faustus wished to bewilder those more ignorant than himself, in the hope of getting hold on not a few unacquainted with these things. It is needless to resort to other writings to quote examples of this construction from profane authors for the information of our friends, and for the refutation of Faustus. We find examples in passages quoted above from Moses by Faustus himself, without any denial, or rather with the assertion, that they were written by Moses, only not written of Christ. When Moses, then, writes of himself, does he say, I said this, or I did that, and not rather, Moses said, and Moses did? Or does he say, The Lord called me, The Lord said to me, and not rather, The Lord called Moses, The Lord said to Moses, and so on? So Matthew, too, speaks of himself in the third person.
And John does the same; for towards the end of his book he says: “Peter, turning, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved, who also lay on His breast at supper, and who said to the Lord, Who is it that shall betray You?” Does he say, Peter, turning, saw me? Or will you argue from this that John did not write this Gospel? But he adds a little after: “This is the disciple that testifies of Jesus, and has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.” [John 21:20-24] Does he say, I am the disciple who testify of Jesus, and who have written these things, and we know that my testimony is true? Evidently this style is common in writers of narratives. There are innumerable instances in which the Lord Himself uses it. “When the Son of man,” He says, “comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” [Luke 18:8] Not, When I come, shall I find? Again, “The Son of man came eating and drinking;” [Matthew 11:19] not, I came. Again, “The hour shall come, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live;” [John 5:25] not, My voice. And so in many other places. This may suffice to satisfy inquirers and to refute scoffers.

The reality is, this is quite common. Consider this in Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic and Civil Wars.

“”caes.gal.1.7”: [1.7] When it was reported to Caesar that they were attempting to make their route through our Province he hastens to set out from the city, and, by as great marches as he can, proceeds to Further Gaul, and arrives at Geneva. He orders the whole Province [to furnish] as great a number of soldiers as possible, as there was in all only one legion in Further Gaul: he orders the bridge at Geneva to be broken down. When the Helvetii are apprized of his arrival they send to him, as embassadors, the most illustrious men of their state (in which embassy Numeius and Verudoctius held the chief place), to say “that it was their intention to march through the Province without doing any harm, because they had” [according to their own representations,] “no other route: that they requested, they might be allowed to do so with his consent.” Caesar, inasmuch as he kept in remembrance that Lucius Cassius, the consul, had been slain, and his army routed and made to pass under the yoke by the Helvetii, did not think that [their request] ought to be granted: nor was he of opinion that men of hostile disposition, if an opportunity of marching through the Province were given them, would abstain from outrage and mischief. Yet, in order that a period might intervene, until the soldiers whom he had ordered [to be furnished] should assemble, he replied to the ambassadors, that he would take time to deliberate; if they wanted any thing, they might return on the day before the ides of April [on April 12th]. ”

“”caes.gal.1.10″: [1.10] It is again told Caesar, that the Helvetii intended to march through the country of the Sequani and the Aedui into the territories of the Santones, which are not far distant from those boundaries of the Tolosates, which [viz. Tolosa, Toulouse] is a state in the Province. If this took place, he saw that it would be attended with great danger to the Province to have warlike men, enemies of the Roman people, bordering upon an open and very fertile tract of country. For these reasons he appointed Titus Labienus, his lieutenant, to the command of the fortification which he had made. He himself proceeds to Italy by forced marches, and there levies two legions, and leads out from winter-quarters three which were wintering around Aquileia, and with these five legions marches rapidly by the nearest route across the Alps into Further Gaul. Here the Centrones and the Graioceli and the Caturiges, having taken possession of the higher parts, attempt to obstruct the army in their march. After having routed these in several battles, he arrives in the territories of the Vocontii in the Further Province on the seventh day from Ocelum, which is the most remote town of the Hither Province; thence he leads his army into the country of the Allobroges, and from the Allobroges to the Segusiani. These people are the first beyond the Province on the opposite side of the Rhone. ”

In fact, if I kept quoting every time Caesar is referred to in the third person in this work on just the first chapter, it would be a lengthy blog.

Or consider this in book 3 of Anabasis by Xenophon:

[3.1.4] There was a man in the army named Xenophon, an Athenian, who was neither general nor captain nor private, but had accompanied the expedition because Proxenus, an old friend of his, had sent him at his home an invitation to go with him; Proxenus had also promised him that, if he would go, he would make him a friend of Cyrus, whom he himself regarded, so he said, as worth more to him than was his native state. [3.1.5] After reading Proxenus’ letter Xenophon conferred with Socrates,1 the Athenian, about the proposed journey; and Socrates, suspecting that his becoming a friend of Cyrus might be a cause for accusation against Xenophon on the part of the Athenian government, for the reason that Cyrus was thought to have given the Lacedaemonians zealous aid in their war against Athens,2 advised Xenophon to go to Delphi and consult the god in regard to this journey. [3.1.6] So Xenophon went and asked Apollo to what one of the gods he should sacrifice and pray in order best and most successfully to perform the journey which he had in mind and, after meeting with good fortune, to return home in safety; and Apollo in his response told him to what gods he must sacrifice. [3.1.7] When Xenophon came back from Delphi, he reported the oracle to Socrates; and upon hearing about it Socrates found fault with him because he did not first put the question whether it were better for him to go or stay, but decided for himself that he was to go and then asked the god as to the best way of going. “However,” he added, “since you did put the question in that way, you must do all that the god directed.”

Or 2.20.4 in The Jewish War by Josephus

“They also chose other generals for Idumea; Jesus, the son of Sapphias, one of the high priests; and Eleazar, the son of Ananias, the high priest; they also enjoined Niger, the then governor of Idumea, (32) who was of a family that belonged to Perea, beyond Jordan, and was thence called the Peraite, that he should be obedient to those fore-named commanders. Nor did they neglect the care of other parts of the country; but Joseph the son of Simon was sent as general to Jericho, as was Manasseh to Perea, and John, the Esscue, to the toparchy of Thamna; Lydda was also added to his portion, and Joppa, and Emmaus. But John, the son of Matthias, was made governor of the toparchies of Gophnitica and Acrabattene; as was Josephus, the son of Matthias, of both the Galilees. Gamala also, which was the strongest city in those parts, was put under his command. ”

In light of this, we agree with the words of John David Michaelis in Introduction to the New Testament, 3rd ed., vol. 1, part 1 (London: F. C. and J. Rivington, 1819), pp. 20-21:

“A man capable of such an argument must have been ignorant not only of the Greek writers, the knowledge of which could not have been expected from Faustus, but even of the Commentaries of Caesar. And were it thought improbable that so heavy a charge could be laid with justice on the side of his knowledge, it would fall with double weight on the side of his honesty, and induce us to suppose, that, preferring the arts of sophistry to the plainness of truth, he maintained opinions which he believed to be false.”

What can we conclude then? Only someone utterly ignorant of history would raise a red flag at something being in the third person. It is not a shock that such an atheist is.

The article by J.P. Holding on this topic can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Wave Comes Crashing Down Part 1

Is this wave heading for a crash? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There’s a certain loud-mouthed atheist who has a tendency to make up claims about himself and make it seem as if he’s refuted a number of great minds in the field of apologetics. This one is constantly going around to apologetics forums, a number of which have banned him because of his problematic behavior. He considers himself the “New Wave” of atheist debaters, to which if he is the new wave, then Christianity is in good hands! Seeing as he has such a tremendous ego and a fulfillment of view that the ignorance of a new atheist on a topic they pontificate on is in direct proportion to their hubris, he’d probably like me to tell you his name.

So now let’s move on then to the first of seven irrefutable claims he says he has!

First claim:

100% FACT: we don’t know who wrote the gospels (guess all you want but at the end of the day we don’t know who wrote them because no one signed their name to them) …RED FLAG!!!!

Since there’s no signature, does that mean we don’t know who wrote them?

Well, no.

Does that mean there aren’t disputes? Not at all. Of course there are, but we can say most authors did not personally sign their works. In fact, this doesn’t happen in modern times. Usually, the author of a work is identified at the beginning of a work in the ancient world, but even then that is not enough.

The physician Galen once walked by a store to see a book that he had supposedly written being sold. He did not remember writing that book so he went home and wrote on how to recognize books that he wrote. Forgery was a problem in the ancient world.

Now in NT studies, there are a number of works of Paul that are universally accepted as Pauline. These are Romans, Galatians, Philippians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Other books are in dispute, some more than others. Here’s something they all have in common.

They all claim to be by Paul.

What does that tell us? It tells us that for NT scholarship, because a book says it is by Paul, it does not mean ipso facto that it is by Paul. Does that mean it should be disregarded? No. The internal evidence should play some role.

On the same note, it is not denied that Tacitus wrote Tacitus, but if your only reason for thinking such was because it says it’s by Tacitus at the start, then someone could just as easily say “the Pastorals say they’re by Paul, therefore they’re by Paul.” Now I hold that they are by Paul, but I know that’s not enough to seal the deal.

In reality, a number of works in the ancient world did not have a name by them. Does our atheist have a way of identifying then who wrote the lives attributed Plutarch? How about who wrote the Annals of Tacitus? How about who wrote the works attributed to Thucydides?

We do not find any argumentation from him stating how it is that one determines authorship of a work. We do not find interaction with the scholars on both sides of the issue giving reasons why we should think one person wrote a text and another another.

And in my experience, if someone does not give a reason for believing a claim besides their own incredulity and makes a case that has not been argued from the leading scholarship in a field, then that is a case that is not to be taken seriously.

If it’s not to be taken seriously, then why write posts about it?

Because unfortunately, too many people do, and these canards are the usual types that are thrown out there by internet skeptics that are a dime-a-dozen.

It’s also worth noting that this atheist constantly wants audio debates to get an audience, but he has repeatedly turned down a chance to have a written debate at TheologyWeb.com. That link can be found here.

My ministry partner’s write-up on this first point can also be found here.

The new wave is already crashing, but it never really got off the ground to begin with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters