With Easter approaching, secular science joins in on the celebration of this particular holiday with their own take on Christ. This is a classic religion-vs-secular science confrontation found in Live Science.
“Jesus Christ may be the most famous man who ever lived. But how do we know he did?
“Most theological historians, Christian and non-Christian alike, believe that Jesus really did walk the Earth. They draw that conclusion from textual evidence in the Bible, however, rather than from the odd assortment of relics parading as physical evidence in churches all over Europe.”
“That’s because, from fragments of text written on bits of parchment to overly abundant chips of wood allegedly salvaged from his crucifix, none of the physical evidence of Jesus’ life and death hold up to scientific scrutiny.”
Does this sound familiar? Reporter Natalie Wolchover writes about distinctions between scientific evidence and belief – as if the evidence requires no belief or assumption or interpretation. She also eliminates eyewitness testimony by demanding the evidence must only contain the physical. After reviewing relic stories, she turns her attention to textual evidence.
Let’s compare other textual sources in the ancient past such as Herodotus’s historical works, whose originals were written in 480-425 BC. How many copies were documented from this source? A mere eight copies! Aristotle’s writings have found their way to the 20th century have only five copies. And there are 20 copies of the historian Tacitus as well. What about the Bible? Over 6,000 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, 10,000 Latin Vulgates, and 9,300 other early versions (MSS), giving us more than 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament in existence today! In other words, the Bible is the most documented book in existence today!
Wolchover tries to include non-canonical gospels as though they were equal to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John which by the way they are not! She also failed to explore the early Christians criteria for authenticity nor the social dynamics of heretics and cults who might have reasons to write distorted or inaccurate accounts, nor the science of textual analysis, concerned with the authenticity of texts.
She put herself in middle ground on the historicity of Jesus, quoting Marcus Borg, a secular scholar at Oregon State: “We do know some things about the historical Jesus – less than some Christians think, but more than some skeptics think.” The conclusions however rests on what particular texts are viewed as credible. Borg did not question the fact that Jesus lived, but from the textual evidence, presented a synopsis of Jesus’ life sanitized of the miraculous.
“He was executed by Roman imperial authority, and his followers experienced him after his death. It is clear, Borg said, that they had visions of Jesus as they had known him during his historical life. Only after his death did they declare Jesus to be “lord” or “the son of God.”
No philosopher of science would affirm that the opinions of Borg and Wolchover presented were dictated to them by the scientific evidence itself. Clearly a different set of authorities would produce different conclusions. Understand what goes behind these writings, it is critical for Live Science to try and debunk Jesus therefore could also claim that creationism is not a science, that making conclusions about a young earth based on the evidence is a religion not science even though many of their theories have been debunked by advancements.