Book Plunge: Atheist Manifesto Part 4

Should we be concerned about a theocracy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Theocracy. I hear atheists crying out about it numerous times as if this is the dream of every Christian. Now in some sense, Christians do believe in theocracy. We do believe that one day God will be truly recognized as king throughout the world and that that will come through Christ. This does not mean that we think that that means some men should rise up, claim to speak for God, and enforce one religion by law.

But yeah, atheists always think the latter is what we’re really pushing for. Every Christian wants Christianity to be the law of the land. I can’t remember the last time I met someone who thinks this way, but this person is the exception.

Still, Onfray has a whole chapter devoted to this. One of the starting points is about the Gospels. They were written about a half-century afterward and we don’t have any copies until the second or third century. If anything, most ancient historians would be ecstatic if the majority of works from the ancient world were like that, if not all ancient historians.

Naturally, Onfray appeals to Hitler saying Hitler appealed to the making of the whip by Jesus in the temple. Obviously then, John is responsible for Hitler. Absent is any mention of the effects of Nietzsche on Hitler, whom Onfray spoke of favorably, but hey, double standards are no big deal. Right? It also doesn’t matter that Nietzsche’s philosophy could naturally lead to a Hitler while John’s theology doesn’t.

Later on he has even more claims. The RCC approved the rearming of Germany in the 1930’s. They signed a concordat with Hitler when he took office in 1933. They were silent over the boycott of Jewish businesses, Nuremberg racial laws in 1935, and Kristallnacht in 1938. They provided Hitler with genealogical records so he could know who was and wasn’t Christian. They aided the pro-Nazi Ustachi regime of Ante Pavelic in Croatia. They gave absolution to the Vichy regime in 1940. They also never condemned the destruction happening in 1942. They offered a requiem in memory of Hitler and set up a network to smuggle war criminals out of Europe. They also entered into their ranks people who performed tasks for Hitler. Hitler was never excommunicated and Mein Kampf was never on the list of forbidden books. Keep in mind, all of these are presented as facts.

I am not a historian of the time period so I cannot say, but I remain skeptical. We saw the facts that Onfray presented about the existence of Jesus. It sounds more like conspiracy theories and the Vatican is always a favorite topic of those. Also mentioned would be the idea of Nazis having emblazoned on their belts, “God with us” which makes as much sense as saying that atheists in America that spend coins with “In God We Trust” on them must be closet theists.

Of course, Onfray writes about slavery. There will be zero bothering to look and see scholarly responses. Onfray is sufficient with throwing out something and the implication being “This is offensive!” without bothering to see anything that is on the other side. Remember, Onfray’s book has no bibliography or notes of any kind.

There is not much more that can be said. Onfray wants to throw out anything and hope that it sticks and his book is written with no apparent structure. It is the rant of someone who needs to be better informed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How To Examine Claims

What are some steps you can take in investigation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So yesterday, my wife brings to my attention this claim. It’s an old one and it’s one I had looked at before but not really wrote much about except on Facebook because I take it as prima facie nonsense since it sounds like conspiracy theory thinking. It’s important that you know that in my family, I’m the more intellectual and my wife is the more emotional. So let’s suppose you’re someone who hasn’t studied this area as much and you hear a claim. How can you start investigating a claim like this?

Let’s start by seeing what it says:

Much to the dismay of the Vatican, an approx. 1500-2000 year old bible was found in Turkey, in the Ethnography Museum of Ankara. Discovered and kept secret in the year 2000, the book contains the Gospel of Barnabas – a disciple of Christ – which shows that Jesus was not crucified, nor was he the son of God, but a Prophet.

Actually, the account could not show that. It cannot show that any more than you can give someone a NT and show them Jesus is the resurrected Lord just by doing that. You have to work through the data of what the document says and why it should be believed. At best, you can say an old manuscript was found that CLAIMS this, but not one that shows it.

If we go this route, we also have to look beyond it. This is one claim. Do we have any other claim to the contrary? We have several. Practically every book of the New Testament as well as sources like Josephus, Mara Bar-Serapion, Tacitus, and Lucian. The crucifixion of Jesus is one of the most accepted facts of all by New Testament scholars.

Could it be this Gospel is right? Well perhaps, but if you’re going to say every other claim is wrong and this in the face of expert opinion on both sides of the fence, you need some convincing evidence. Just saying it is not convincing enough.

The book also calls Apostle Paul “The Impostor”.  The book also claims that Jesus ascended to heaven alive, and that Judas Iscariot was crucified in his place.

Amazingly enough, this all seems to match very well with Muslim doctrine. For those interested, I would suggest doing some research on the Gospel of Barnabas. Also, don’t confuse it with the Epistle of Barnabas.

A report by The National Turk says that the Bible was seized from a gang of smugglers in a Mediterranean-area operation. The report states the gang was charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations, and the possession of explosives.  The books itself is valued as high as 40 Million Turkish Liras (approx. 28 mil. Dollars).  Man, where is the Thieves Guild, when you need them?

Now we’re getting somewhere. We have some claims we can look into. So let’s do that. Let’s go to the National Turk. I go there and I type in Bible in the search engine. The second link matches the image I see above. You can read the story here. At this point, I am not looking to see if the story is true or false, but if you read the story, the National Turk is saying nothing like what is presented in the rest of the article about the content of the book.

According to reports, experts and religious authorities in Tehram insist that the book is original.  The book itself is written with gold lettering, onto loosely-tied leather in Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.The text maintains a vision similar to Islam, contradicting the New Testament’s teachings of Christianity.  Jesus also foresees the coming of the Prophet Muhammad, who would found Islam 700 years later.
Several problems here. First off, who are these experts and religious authorities? We’re not told. There is not a single name I can go and check on. Do we even have a date on the book yet? If the book is 1,500 years old, who cares if it’s an original? We want the earliest and best sources. It’s also a wonder how this person could think Islam came 700 years later. Islam was active in the middle of the 7th century which would be 600 years after Jesus.
It is believed that, during the Council of Nicea, the Catholic Church hand-picked the gospels that form the Bible as we know it today; omitting the Gospel of Barnabas (among many others) in favor of the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Many biblical texts have begun to surface over time, including those of the Dead Sea and Gnostic Gospels; but this book especially, seems to worry the Vatican.
And now we have something else we can investigate. Yes. This is believed. It is also believed by some that evolution is a giant fraud put on them by the scientific community. It is believed by many that the moon landing is a hoax. It is believed by many that 9-11 was an inside job. It is believed by many that Jesus never existed. The opposite claims are also believed by many. Of course, anyone who bothered to study the Council of Nicea would know that this is nonsense. Here’s what one scholar says about this.

There are also a lot of people who think (I base this on the number of times I hear this or am asked about it) that it was at the Council of Nicea that the canon of the New Testament was decided. That is, this is when Christian leaders allegedly decided which books would be accepted into the New Testament and which ones would be left out.

That too is wrong.

Who is this scholar?

Bart Ehrman.

Anyone want to think he has an axe to grind for Christianity? Muslims love quoting Ehrman. Will they accept him here?
What evidence do we have any of this is worrying the Vatican? We have no statements from the Vatican whatsoever. All we have is the article’s say so. Why should I take that seriously?
Much more of this article is just accusations about other people, but I think it’s ironic how it ends.
For centuries, the “defense” of blind faith has driven nations to war, violence, discrimination, slavery and to become the society of automatons that we are today; and for just as long, it has been justified with lies.  If you know better, act like it.
It is amazing that so many people who shared this article did so with blind faith without checking it. There’s also a greater irony when you talk about war and violence and look at the history of Islam. Perhaps those who believed this article should have known better and acted on it.
This has just been one case, but I hope I have shown some of the tools that can be used. This is also assuming that you are not an expert on the material. I really recommend doing this even for stuff that agrees with you. There’s a lot of nonsense on the internet after all.
In Christ,
Nick Peters