Video: Are the Gospels Eyewitness Accounts?

Video: Are the Gospels Eyewitness Accounts? August 14, 2015

The idea that the gospels were written either by eyewitnesses or by the companions of eyewitnesses is popular, but where’s the evidence?

Here’s a brief video rebuttal. The argument that we even know who wrote the gospels is flimsier than most imagine.

The most savage controversies are those about matters 
as to which there is no good evidence either way. 
Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic.  
— Bertrand Russell

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 12/5/12.)
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  • JoBar

    Great video.
    Bob, may I suggest putting the references of your source material at the end of the video? That way, when people re-post/embed this video elsewhere, the claims and evidence will be self-contained without having to post additional links. This is a trend in educational videos I hope catches on.

    • The YouTube page has more information, but that’s an interesting point. I’ll keep that in mind for any future videos.

      • JoBar

        Yes, I saw that, thanks. I also see you’re catching a lot of heat from angry theists. (Which is, in a way, great!) All the more reason to be above reproach when it comes to making claims with evidence.

  • Otto

    Excuse me if this is a dumb question but I get easily confused with a lot of this stuff.

    Who said “Peter was an eyewitness but Mark wrote it all down”? Was it Papias who made that claim?

    • Papias did say that, but I was channeling conservative Christians. I’ve heard it coming from conservative apologists.

      • Otto

        OK fair enough…but where do they get that information from? What is the source for that claim?

        • Greg G.
        • Otto

          OK but my question is…other than Eusebius saying Papias said that is there any other source for that claim?

          And why the heck should Papias be trusted to be telling the truth? Even if he believed it how could he be reasonably informed enough so many years later to make that claim?

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, he can’t be trusted really, but since he’s pretty much the only game in town we roll with it. His reputation in recent times has taken a pretty good beating by scholars of history(the real ones, not the fake mouthpieces hired by churches). Even in some theist circles there is admission that the work of Eusebius is often questionable.

        • primenumbers

          Papias shows no sign of being a historian and using good historical method. What he shows is collection of everything and anything no matter what the source or how dubious the authenticity.

        • Papias documented the oral history of the early church. I suppose we should be grateful that he documented as much as he did, but of course, it’s pretty suspect, being just oral history many decades after the events.

        • Otto

          And I would tell them Joseph Smith documented the Golden Plate history of the early church…;)

        • OK but my question is…other than Eusebius saying Papias said that is there any other source for that claim?

          Irenaeus also made the claim around the end of the second century (later than Papias, but before Eusebius). I can’t think of any others; there’s plenty of references to the “Gospel according to Mark”, but usually without explanation of who Mark is.

        • Otto

          I was more addressing the claim that Mark got his information from Peter.

        • Yes, Irenaeus claims that. I’ve found what seems to be a comprehensive list of who makes the claim on an apologetics site:

          http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-marks-gospel-an-early-memoir-of-the-apostle-peter/

          It’s mostly late second to early third century writers, with Papias being the earliest. That assumes that we trust Eusebius to tell us what Papias said; if Eusebius is mistaken or lying, then there’s nothing before the late second century.

        • Greg G.

          That is a very good collection for that. It seems they all may have got their information from Papias.

        • Probably. Either that, or they were all just going by the popular rumour.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if Eusebius is mistaken or lying

          and/or dubiously copied or creatively enhanced 140+ yrs after the ‘fact’ …

        • Greg G.

          He Papias says Matthew was written in Hebrew but the Matthew we have was used Mark as a source and was in Greek, so I don’t think he was talking about what we call Matthew. I expect that it got the name because the ancients were looking for a gospel to call “Matthew” because of Papias.

          So, he may not have even been talking about what we call Mark.

        • primenumbers

          He almost certainly wasn’t even talking about what we call Mark. The description Papias gives of his “Mark” doesn’t fit the Mark we have at all and if describes anything real at all certainly describes a very different book.

  • wtfwjtd

    I love this little video! Direct, to the point, and short in length. I notice a few blowhards poo-pooing it in the comments, but strangely, no challenges at all to your basic premises. That pretty much says it all.

    • You might’ve noticed that I kept pounding them for actual, specific concerns. I got nothing. Par for the course, I guess.

      • wtfwjtd

        My favorite was the dude that said he needed far more than 500 words to refute any of the points of your little 3-minute video. No wonder apologists go for word salads and obfuscation, apparently it’s all they’ve got. Very telling.

        • Ron

          “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” ~W. C. Fields

        • wtfwjtd

          Ha! For a second there, I thought your attribution was going to be WLC. Might as well have been!

        • Pofarmer

          It wasn’t 1000 words with 5 premesis.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, that should have been a dead giveaway.

  • epicurus

    Great video.
    I think Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet, and the early movement following his death was apocalyptic – as in “any day week or month now, or at the most within our lifetime/generation.” So there was no priority to write stuff down and keep records (adding in the general illiteracy of most people).
    Imagine if Jesus had said “and you shall preach this message far and wide, year after year, generation after generation, for thousands of years. And you shall create large institutions, and be politically active, and this will go on until the stars fade and the sun dies out in the future so far far from now that you can’t even imagine what the world would be like.”
    I’m pretty sure that would have resulted in an emphasis on writing everything down right from the start, preserving, cataloguing, and monitoring it properly. Instead, we get large gaps of time with bits and fragments of writings that someone decades or hundreds of years later says were written by an apostle or church father.
    And Christians are mystified when non believers say that is flimsy evidence. I’m very sure though, that those same Christians who think there is good evidence would laugh if another religion tried to pull that line. Imagine a Mormon or Muslim with that kind of “evidence” trying to convince a Christian. The Christian would shut them down.

    • wtfwjtd

      The evidence attesting to the veracity of Mormonism puts that of Christianity to shame. And yet, nearly all of my Christian fundie friends and family have no hesitation in declaring Mormonism false. Big time double-standard, no doubt.

      • primenumbers

        Yup, actual signed testimony to the golden tablets! You just can’t beat that!

        • Yep, and that was done while Joseph Smith was living, along with the witnesses. Yet strangely most mainstream Christians become skeptics when confronted with that.

        • TheNuszAbides

          well … you can put a hell of a dent in it with the majority having recanted … but of course that’s just a technicalityhey look over there!

        • primenumbers

          Did they? Mormons don’t believe any recanted.

        • TheNuszAbides

          or waffled, or … well of course, it’s just one more “were you there?” to add to the heap.

      • GubbaBumpkin

        The evidence attesting to the veracity of Mormonism puts that of Christianity to shame.

        Well, you’ve got the signed testimony of the three witnesses and the eight witnesses,

        but on the other hand there’s the obviously bogus Book of Abraham, the extensive archaeological evidence against events described in the BoM (metal weapons, horses in the New World, etc.), the paleontological and DNA evidence that native Americans are not from the middle east, and the church’s flipflops on issues of theological import (polygamy, status of blacks in heaven).

        • Yep, and there’s your problem. The Bible wins because it’s less specific. Hard to imagine that “Ah, but my book is less verifiable … so I win!” can be made by Christians with a straight face, but there you are.

        • MNb

          Another fine example of Philpse’s The Tension:

          http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/36607-god-in-the-age-of-science-a-critique-of-religious-reason/

          “either to justify theological claims in the manner of scientific methods and theories, which involves making empirical predictions with negligible chances of success, or risk being too dissimilar from scientific and scholarly rationality to be credible”

    • So far as I know, Christians do scoff at similar claims by the Muslims, Mormons, and so on. However at least the Muslim hadiths (sayings of Mudammed) attempt to verify the chain of attestation, i.e. this guy got it from earlier guy, back to Muhammed. Of course this is the same problem, as many of these chains go back centuries, so it’s a huge telephone game. You don’t even have to assume any liars-just the faultiness of all human memory is enough (though certainly people might put things in over time deliberately too).

      • epicurus

        I remember a section in a book I no longer have by Hector Avalos “The End of Biblical Studies” where he gives an example of a “miracle” regarding an appearance of Mary in Yugoslavia in the early 80’s that meets many of the criterion for evidence and belief that people like William Lane Craig often give when arguing for the resurrection. But because it goes against their theology, there is no way a Protestant would consider this evidence as valid.

        • Are they really so dead-set against Marian apparitions? Well, I suppose they could just claim it was demonic…

        • Greg G.

          Are they really so dead-set against Marian apparitions?

          If they are not on toast.

        • Pofarmer

          Another interesting thing about Medjogorgia(sp?) Is that there were journalists there on the day,when the huge crowds were there and the miracles supposedly happened th at said, “Yeah, we didn’t see nuthin.” The local Bishop though the kids were a fraud, and still we get these miracle claims. Remember that the next time someone asks why Jesus miracles weren’t refuted at the time.

      • SparklingMoon,

        One of the many objectives of the Holy Quran was to settle the dispute between the Jews and the Christians with regard to the Messiah (as), and it has satisfactorily settled all such issues. An example of this is found in the Quranic verse: ”O Jesus, I will cause thee to die and will exalt thee to Myself.” (Quran 3: 56)

        The Jews believed that since the Messiah, the Prophet of the Christians, was crucified, therefore, in the light of the teachings of the Torah, he was accursed, was never raised to heaven and was an impostor. The Christians, on the other hand, believed that he became accursed, but only for their sake, and that later his curse was removed and he was raised to heaven and sat on the right hand of God.

        But this verse (Quran 3: 56) establishes that Jesus was exalted towards God immediately after his death, and that he was neither cursed forever, as the Jews believed (for an everlasting curse is a barrier to attaining spiritual exaltation) nor for a few days, as the Christians would have us believe.

        In the same verse God also explains that Jesus’ spiritual exaltation [towards God] is not contrary to the teachings of the Torah, because, according to it, only he who actually dies on the cross is accursed and is denied exaltation. Being put on the cross and suffering pain, which does not result in death, brings no curse, nor does it preclude spiritual exaltation.

        According to the Torah, crucifixion is the Divine method of putting sinners to death, hence whoever dies on the cross dies the accursed death of a sinner. The Messiah (as), however, did not die on the cross rather God saved him from such a death. He had foretold that his situation would be similar to that of Jonah, and so it happened. Just as Jonah did not die in the belly of the fish, so was Jesus saved from death on the cross, and his prayer ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani’ (My God, my God why have you forsaken me? (Matthew, 27: 46 ) was heard.

        Another proof that Jesus escaped death is that his bones were not broken on the cross, and blood gushed forth from his body when it was pierced after being taken down from the cross. Afterwards he also showed his disciples his wounds which he would not have had if he had been resurrected. All this proves that Jesus did not die on the cross and was, therefore, not accursed. He died a virtuous death and, like all Prophets of God, was exalted towards Him in keeping with the promise contained in the verse ( I will cause thee to die and will exalt thee to Myself (Quran 3:56)

        Had he died on the cross, his own statement would have belied him for there would have been no resemblance between him and Jonah.Thus the dispute that had long existed between the Christians and the Jews was finally settled by the Holy Quran (Ruhanikhazain)

        • That only settles things if you believe in the Quran. Christians and Jews do not, nor atheists, so this really settles nothing.

    • SparklingMoon,

      I think Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet,
      ———————————————–
      Jesus (ra) was a true Prophet of God Almighty and was a loved one of His. The Jews of the time of Jesus (ra) planned his ruin and conspired to impose upon his righteous soul the curse of death upon the cross, as the Torah has declared that he who dies upon the rood would be accursed. This was an evil scheme which had been thought out with reference to the Messiah (peace be upon him) so that the people should conclude that he was not pure hearted and a true Prophet and a loved one of God but was accursed whose heart was vile, and that he was disgusted with God and God was disgusted with him. But God Almighty frustrated the wicked design of the Jews and not only rescued his righteous Prophet from death on the cross, but bestowed a long life of one hundred and twenty years upon him, during which all his Jewish enemies were destroyed. According to the eternal ways of God Almighty, every Prophet with a high resolve has to migrate on account of the persecution by his people. Therefore, Jesus (peace be upon him) also, after a ministry of three years, and having been rescued from death on the cross, migrated towards India. Having conveyed the Divine message to the other tribes of Israel, who, after the Babylonian dispersal, had settled in India, Kashmir and Tibet.

      Jesus (peace be upon him) has been a victim of the misguided in a strange manner. During his lifetime the disbelieving Jews called him an infidel, liar, deceiver and impostor and denied his spiritual exaltation. Those who were inclined towards the worship of man deified him. The Jews denied his spiritual exaltation and were countered with the doctrine of his physical ascent to heaven. Previous Prophets were exalted to heaven spiritually after they had died, but Jesus was declared to be seated in heaven bodily in his clothes and with all human qualities while he was still alive. This was a reply to his persistent rejection by the Jews and their denial of his spiritual exaltation, but it was an altogether absurd reply. (Ruhanikhazain)

  • SparklingMoon,

    The revelation and sayings of Jesus had been mixed with human narrations and explanation in these four Gospels therefore it is mistake to consider its each and every word a Revelation of God Almighty. The Gospels still , in spite of having human interference, have statements that help to find truth about Jesus and his message as it is against the tradition of God Almighty to remove the whole revelation of a prophet that is a big source of guidance for the followers of a prophet after his death. Thirdly, It is a tradition of God that He always in the revelation to His next coming prophets, points out the mistakes that has been amalgamated in the revelations of His previous prophets, to guide His people in right direction.

    It is not the original words of these Gospels but human explanations that support Trinity. These human explanations has created a confusion and deprived many people to think about its original words. There are statements in the Gospels that are very clear about the person and message of Jesus(as). According to the descriptions of the Gospels, Jesus was a last Messiah prophet of God in the progeny of Children’s Israel and his mission was to reform the twelve tribes of Israel and to make them understand the real message of Mosaic Law as it was revealed to prophet Moses. In the Gospels Jesus never talked about the heritage of Adan Eva’s sin into next coming generations or he never boasted his fatherless birth as a sign of his being a son of God,or he never said that he had been sent to be crossed for the sins of Others. He called always to God Almighty as a follower of Mosaic Law and described his mission to reform lost sheep of Israel.

    Secondly, ‘the clergies whimsically declare some books to be divine and others to be forged. They judge these four Gospels to be authentic and the rest—about fifty-six of them—forged. But this belief is based on mere guesswork and speculation, rather than on any concrete evidence. They have had to make these decisions by themselves, for there is a marked discrepancy between these and the other Gospels. Researchers, however, believe that it is not possible to determine which of them is actually forged and which is not. This is why, on the occasion of King Edward’s coronation, the Church fathers of London presented him with the books which they presume to be forged along with the four Gospels, all bound in one volume.Now, if these books had really been forged and were unholy, would it not be sinful to bind the holy and the unholy in a single volume?

    The fact is that they are unable to say with any degree of conviction whether any of these books are authentic or forged, and everyone goes by their own opinion. These people declare a book to be false or fabricated for either of these two reasons: (1)If an account or a book contradicts the current Gospels. (2) If an account or a book has some similarity with the Holy Quran.

    Some first try to establish the principle that these books are fabricated, and then claim that the Holy Quran contains stories taken out of them, and in this manner they try to deceive the ignorant. The fact is that only Divine revelation has the authority to prove the truth or falsity of past scriptures. Any account confirmed by Divine revelation has to be true, even though some ignorant ones declare it otherwise. Similarly, the account which Divine revelation rejects, has to be false, even though some people declare it to be true’. (Ruhanikhazain)

    • RoverSerton

      You do realize that many of us on this site don’t believe in any god, right? Your long diatribes do nothing to support your case without first believing that the words come from something other than mans imagination.

      1. Show us evidence of a god. After you do that, we can talk about what deity wishes us to know and how it will teach us those things. Until that basis is created, there is no 2.

      • SparklingMoon,

        ‘As the Being of God Almighty, despite its brilliance, is utterly hidden, this physical system that is spread out before our eyes is not alone sufficient for its recognition. That is why those who have depended upon this system and have observed carefully its perfect and complete orderliness together with all the wonders comprehended in it, and have thoroughly studied astronomy, physics, and philosophy, and have, as it were, penetrated into the heavens and the earth, have yet not been delivered from the darkness of doubts and suspicions. Many of them become involved in grave errors and wander far away in pursuit of their fancies. Their utmost conjecture is that this grand system which displays great wisdom must have a Maker, but this conjecture is incomplete and this insight is defective.

        The affirmation that this system must have a creator does not amount to a positive affirmation that He does in truth exist. Such a conjecture cannot bestow satisfaction upon the heart, nor remove all doubt from it. Nor is it a draught which can quench the thirst for complete understanding which man’s nature demands. Indeed, this defective understanding is most dangerous, for despite all its noise it amounts to nothing. In short, unless God Almighty affirms His existence through His Word, as He has manifested it through His work, the observation of the work alone does not afford complete satisfaction.

        It is a great mistake to imagine that God is like a corpse which has to be brought out of its grave by man. If God has to be discovered through human effort, all our hopes of such a God are vain. Indeed God is the Being Who has ever called mankind to Himself by announcing: I am present. It would be impertinence to imagine that man has laid Him under an obligation through his understanding of Him and that if there had been no philosophers He would have remained unknown.'(Ruhanikhazain)

        • epicurus

          How do you know that what you believe is true?

        • SparklingMoon,

          Salvation can only be meaningful if man reaches a state where he does not boldly venture upon sin, and his love for God becomes so strong that no egoistic passion can surmount it, and this, obviously, cannot be attained without complete God-realization. In the Holy Quran we find clearly defined ways and means for attaining knowledge about God, which generates fear and keeps one away from sin. Through obedience to the Holy Quran, man is granted Divine converse and heavenly signs and is given news of the unseen, and all this results in a strong bond between man and his Master. His prayers are accepted and he is given the news of their acceptance beforehand, and a mighty river of Divine knowledge and awareness flows in his heart and stops him from sin. The fire of love and fear consumes every sin, annihilates every selfish desire, removes all the stains of sinfulness, and cures every inner weakness through a pure and holy transformation.

          Christians do not possess anything that can lead a person to God realization.They have already set a seal on revelation, their miracles have ended with the Messiah and his disciples, and they have abandoned the path of reason by deifying a human being. When we read the Gospels, we find only one method [for attaining salvation], which, apart from being irrational, has nothing to do with the eradication of sin.The plan [devised by the Christians] for attaining salvation is not practicable, for it never stops people from sin, and it is a sin in itself to commit suicide for the deliverance of others.

          Secondly, Messiah(ra) never willingly accepted crucifixion, and the mischievous Jews of his time had treated him as they liked. He spent the whole night weeping and praying in a garden, and God accepted his prayers on account of his righteousness, and—as the Bible itself admits—saved him from an accursed death on the cross. It is, therefore, sheer calumny to say that the Messiah willingly committed suicide, and it is unreasonable to suggest that one can cure the headache of another by striking one’s own head. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • epicurus

          All these things you believe about God and Salvation come from the Koran. How do you know that what’s in the Koran is true?

        • SparklingMoon’s contribution to this conversation seems to consist entirely of copy-pasted chunks of text from Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s Lahore Lectures: Islam in Comparison with Other Religions of India. If SparklingMoon has given you an original sentence here, I haven’t been able to identify it.

          Edited to add: Correction. It appears SparklingMoon has lifted and rearranged text wholesale from several of Ahmad’s works, and not just the Lahore Lectures, throughout the comments here. That kind of copy-pasting strikes me as being more laborious than earnest composition and discussion. I guess I’m just old-fashioned.

        • epicurus

          Well if that’s the case then I’m wasting my time talking to him/her. Sparkling Moon’s dishonesty is not worth my time, and dishonours the God he/she claims to believe in.

        • SparklingMoon,

          What is taken by me from ”Ruhanikhazain” always have a reference of it (Ruhanikhzain) in the end of a post and google (if someone is more interested) provides complete information with this reference (Ruhanikhzain) about the author and about his books. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had written more than eighty books that deals with about all topics of religion. These books are called Ruhanikhazain and English translation of some books are available online free to read.

        • MNb

          Dishonesty? As far as I can see he always mentions the author he is quoting and never pretends he writes anything himself. No, dishonesty is not the reason he’s a waste of time. The reason is that those quotes invariably are totally irrelevant and don’t even try to tell us why we should believe.

        • TheNuszAbides

          always?? i’ve never seen him mention an [puny mortal commentary] author until today, but then again i’ve been comfortable merely (1) skimming his comments for external reference and (2) essentially ignoring them after examining the first few sentences, since he long ago established a predictable pattern of (while clearly being responsive, which is more than we can say for many passing theists), as you indicate, neglecting to attempt a single appeal that isn’t of circular dependence on scripture or the dullest of presuppositions.

        • SparklingMoon,

          If SparklingMoon has given you an original sentence here, I haven’t been able to identify it.
          —————————————————————–
          The revelation and sayings of Jesus had been mixed with human narrations and explanation in these four Gospels therefore it is mistake to consider its each and every word a Revelation of God Almighty. The Gospels still , in spite of having human interference, have statements that help to find truth about Jesus and his message as it is against the tradition of God Almighty to remove the whole revelation of a prophet that is a big source of guidance for the followers of a prophet after his death. Thirdly, It is a tradition of God that He always in the revelation to His next coming prophets, points out the mistakes that has been amalgamated in the revelations of His previous prophets, to guide His people in right direction.

          It is not the original words of these Gospels but human explanations that support Trinity. These human explanations has created a confusion and deprived many people to think about its original words. There are statements in the Gospels that are very clear about the person and message of Jesus(as). According to the descriptions of the Gospels, Jesus was a last Messiah prophet of God in the progeny of Children’s Israel and his mission was to reform the twelve tribes of Israel and to make them understand the real message of Mosaic Law as it was revealed to prophet Moses. In the Gospels Jesus never talked about the heritage of Adan Eva’s sin into next coming generations or he never boasted his fatherless birth as a sign of his being a son of God,or he never said that he had been sent to be crossed for the sins of Others. He called always to God Almighty as a follower of Mosaic Law and described his mission to reform lost sheep of Israel.

        • MNb

          Oh, he has produced some original sentences. He seems to be a Young Earth Creationist, but also seems to be unwilling to explore this road any further.

        • SparklingMoon,

          The chief purpose of a Book of God and a Messenger of God is to rescue the world from a life of sin and to establish a holy relationship between God and the world. The purpose of a Book of God is to lead people to God, and to make them believe in Him as a certainty, and to stop them from committing sin by impressing the majesty and awe of God upon their hearts. Of what use is a book which cannot cleanse a heart, nor can bestow such pure and perfect understanding as should make one hate sin?

          Man needs to be freed from the fatal passion of sin. The greatness of God should so occupy his heart that it should rid him of the overpowering desire of passion which falls upon him like lightning and instantly consumes his store of righteousness. Can such impure passions as attack repeatedly like epilepsy and destroy all sense of piety be wiped out by any self-conceived concept of God? Or can they be suppressed by one’s own thinking, or be blocked by an atonement whose suffering has not been personally experienced? Certainly not.

          This is not a matter of indifference but in the estimation of a wise person it is worthy of consideration above all else as to how he might safeguard himself against the ruin which confronts him on account of his daring and his lack of relationship with God, the root of which is sin and disobedience. It is obvious, that a person cannot give up a certain pleasure for the sake of a conjecture. It is only a certainty that can rescue one from another certainty.

          The Holy Qur’an is the Book which fulfils all these needs. Through it, a person is drawn to God and his heart grows cold to the love of the world. For those who follow it, God, Who is hidden beyond the hidden, in the end manifests Himself and displays those powers of which outsiders have no notion, and informs of His existence by the affirmation: ”I am present”.

          Our observation and experience, and of those who have passed before us, is witness that the Holy Qur’an draws its true follower to itself through its spiritual effect and its inherent light and illumines his heart, and then, by displaying great signs, creates such a strong relationship with God as cannot be cut asunder by a sharp sword. It opens the eye of the heart, banks up the dirty spring of sin, honours one with the delicious converse of God, discloses that which is hidden and helps acceptance of prayer and gives information of it (Ruhanikhazain)

        • epicurus

          How do you know what the chief purpose of a Book of God and a messenger of God is? Is it because the Koran tells you?

        • When relying on text from other writers, it is proper practice to–

          (a) Use quotation marks to enclose the text you are quoting (which appears to be most, and possibly all, of what you have posted here);
          (b) Use ellipses to indicate where words, phrases, or whole sentences have been omitted;
          (c) Use brackets to identify word changes; and
          (d) Name the specific author who wrote the text, as well as the title of the work in which the text originally appeared. A link would be even better, such as this: https://books.google.com/books?id=K8tqxEJQUnAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22lecture+lahore%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBQQ6AEwAGoVChMIsOjJ9YmvxwIV0LgeCh3ayQ7J#v=onepage&q=%22lecture%20lahore%22&f=false

        • SparklingMoon,

          Thank you

        • Whaaa … ? Moon’s blather isn’t even original?

          Who’d’ve guessed?

        • RoverSerton

          A god that has no effect on the world and is invisible is indistinguishable from non existent. You have been very well indoctrinated into your belief system and you speak very well for it, but it is just words and thoughts on a made up deity. Unless there is some reason to believe something is true, I can’t do it.

        • SparklingMoon,

          Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has written: The Gracious and Merciful Lord, Who has invested human nature with the hunger and thirst of His own complete understanding has endowed human nature with two types of faculties for the purpose of arriving at that understanding. One type is the intellectual faculties, the source of which is the brain, and the other type is spiritual faculties the source of which is the heart. The purity of spiritual faculties depends upon the purity of the heart. That which cannot be discovered the intellectual faculties is reached through the spiritual faculties. Spiritual faculties can develop such purity that the graces of the Source of Grace can be mirrored in them, but the condition is that they should be eager for the acquisition of grace and all intervening veils and obstructions should be removed so that they might become the recipients of the grace of perfect understanding. Their recognition of the Divine should not be limited to the affirmation that there should be a Creator of this universe. Rather, by being perfectly graced with the honor of Divine converse, they should be able to behold His countenance directly through having observed His great signs and should thus be able to see with complete certainty that that Creator truly exists. (Ruhanikhazain)

        • TheNuszAbides

          well … if by “speak very well for it” you mean “merely parrot theology with no appeal to rationality”. i mean if he at least leaned towards some mu’tazilite material i might take interest …

    • TheNuszAbides

      i commend the peaceful principle of the Ahmadiyya movement and dearly hope that you expend more effort actively opposing radical violent sentiment within various Muslim communities than unloading theology on thoroughly uninterested atheist audiences. moderates and pacifists have an obligation to restrain or at least condemn those who hide behind the same sacred scriptures to excuse spite and military/political opportunism.

      • SparklingMoon,

        Thank you. ‘A religion which does not inculcate universal compassion is no religion at all. Similarly, a human being without the faculty of compassion is no human at all.’

        I would like to refer you an interesting book (about 60 pages) of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad ” pdf British Government and Jihad ” that is free online to read.

  • RichardSRussell

    Very nicely done, Bob!

  • steele

    This video is such a facile treatment of the subject and rather disingenuous with it’s oh so devastating critique that we the oldest copies we have come from the 900s, really then I guess burn all of Plato’s works and discredit them as well.

    http://www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=1880

    Not to mention the video implies just because Papias believed legendary accounts of Judas that the rest of what he wrote is somehow wrong. It doesn’t necessarily follow that everything he wrote is wrong, maybe Papias just believed everything he heard and some of what he put down is true and some not.

    That all aside I think there is more than faith and Papias that can lead one to conclude the gospels are eyewitness accounts

    https://taarcheia.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/papias-and-the-gospels.pdf

    http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Eyewitnesses-Gospels-Eyewitness-Testimony/dp/0802863906/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

    http://austingrad.edu/images/SBL/Papias%20and%20the%20gospels.pdf

    The internal evidence of the gospels also imply people familiar with Jesus either wrote or knew someone who knew Jesus but that is another matter.

    Bart Ehrman does agree with Bob here (not necessarily for all the same reasons) and I don’t discount the gospels don’t come with a John Hancock but this simplistic video is only going to whip up ardent atheists but before they get too rabid maybe they should do some research because it is not as simple as this sarcastic video implies.

    • It doesn’t necessarily follow that everything he wrote is wrong, maybe Papias just believed everything he heard and some of what he put down is true and some not.

      Now there’s a firm foundation for supernatural beliefs! Someone (whose very chronicler, Eusebius, was unimpressed by him) might have recorded things correctly.

      That all aside I think there is more than faith and Papias that can lead one to conclude the gospels are eyewitness accounts

      Thanks for the sources, but I won’t have time to go through them all. However, I invite you to summarize the best arguments here.

      this simplistic video is only going to whip up ardent atheists but before they get too rabid maybe they should do some research because it is not as simple as this sarcastic video implies.

      We all know that atheists are incapable of thinking, so this is an helpful caution; thanks.

      If you actually want to engage with the many points in the video, that would be helpful. Otherwise, there’s not much here besides you saying that you’re unimpressed. Doesn’t help.

      • steele
        • Thanks for the data point, but that’s 5000 words that I don’t have time for now. Your summary, please.

        • steele

          Luke is an eyewitness testimony and an attestation to Jesus’s life.

        • Luke makes clear in the first few verses that he’s not an eyewitness!

          I hope that very long article has more content than that. If you want to argue that Luke contains eyewitness testimony, you’ve got a big hill to climb. Your say-so isn’t enough, sorry.

        • Greg G.

          eyewitness testimony

          You keep using that phrase. I do not think you know what it means.

        • TheNuszAbides

          or that he knows how little that would actually matter to a remotely rational consideration of the bulk of the narrative.

        • epicurus

          I think you meant what Luke wrote is based on the testimony of eyewitnesses.

        • Greg G.

          Or what Luke assumed was eyewitness testimony.

        • epicurus

          Right.

        • steele

          Sorry yes thanks for the correction

    • epicurus

      If the works of Plato or Caesar or any writer of the ancient world were considered to be as important to one’s salvation as the Bible, and still had large groups claiming Plato’s truth, then I’m pretty sure we would want to be more critical of how little we can know about Plato, Caesar, etc. But we are not because ultimately no one is going to jump out a window if he thought we can’t really know anything about Caesar or Plato.

      • steele

        I have heard this argument and it seems to me the most specious one that can be made against Christian works of antiquity. You don’t judge the authenticity of a work by the importance it holds. If you can accept Plato’s works as authentic, that we don’t have copies too, then you should judge Christian sources by the same objective standard. If you think Plato’s work are flimsy that is fine but pick one and go with it but don’t give me this obviously biased standard you foist on the documents themselves.

        • You don’t judge the authenticity of a work by the importance it holds.

          We demand standards of evidence in proportion to the importance of a claim.

          You say that Plato wore boxers, not briefs? Whatever. But if you say that supernatural stuff happened in the past, and it profoundly affects how I must live my life today? I’ll need lots more evidence.

        • steele

          I get what you are saying and understand you want more proof for one than the other but to say for example that you drop the Statue of Liberty and an apple from an airplane you don’t judge how gravity works based how important you think the Statue of Liberty is or is not.

          The same standard should be brought to all ancient works is my point, Christian writings and secular should both have the same burden of proof as to their authenticity and credibility.

        • The Koran tells you how to live. The Book of Mormon tells you how to live. A thousand old books tell you how to live. Why aren’t you following them?

          Let me guess: because even though they unambiguously state how you should live, you don’t believe that they’re accurate. You have a higher standard for an important, life-changing claim than for a mundane claim.

          Did Socrates really drink hemlock? Did Arthur really have a round table? That really doesn’t affect my life.

        • Dys

          The same standard should be brought to all ancient works is my point, Christian writings and secular should both have the same burden of proof

          And the nature of the claims affects the burden of proof as well. The notion that Socrates drank hemlock has a much lower burden of proof than the claim that the gospels are eyewitness accounts and all the miracles they contain happened. Pretending both have the same burden of proof is irrational.

        • steele

          You are completely missing the point, the burden of proof for the documents is the same regardless of the content. If you want to say a document that we have no copies of until the 900s is somehow faulty then it would apply to all other documents that fit that criteria such as Plato’s works.

        • Kodie

          I see you’re not getting this, because you don’t want to. Your burden of proof is not high enough and you want to lower everyone’s standards.

        • steele

          LOL, nice dodge. I think my point is pretty clear and it’s clear you are trying to obfuscate the obvious.

        • Kodie

          You use big words for such a dummy.

        • steele

          Do you think Socrates existed? If so why we only have copies from the 900s.

        • Kodie

          Do you really not understand the consequences of believing something if the burden of proof has not been met?

        • If you want to say a document that we have no copies of until the 900s is somehow faulty then it would apply to all other documents that fit that criteria such as Plato’s works.

          Bingo! If your life revolves around some facet of a copy of Plato from the 900s, your foundation is very, very weak. That document is indeed suspect.

          Your special pleading is showing.

        • steele

          I am not really special pleading what I am saying is that if you are going to assume ancient documents are questionable because we don’t have copies prior to the 900s then alot of your ancient history secular and Christian is going to be in jeopardy then. If you hold the same standard for both then fine but that would mean we have less reason to believe Socrates existed then Jesus as we have more evidence (earlier narratives) to believe what Jesus said and did then we do Socrates.

        • As I tried to explain earlier, the symmetry fails when you consider what we do with those beliefs. If our data about Alexander the Great merely helps us answer the trivia question, “After whom was the city of Alexandria, Egypt named?” then who cares? If major data points of Alexander were overturned by new evidence tomorrow, who cares? No one’s life revolves around those facts.

          Not so Christianity.

          Also consider that historians scrub the supernatural out of history. All the supernatural elements of the stories of Alexander, Caesar Augustus, Julius Caesar, and so on are gone. The gospel story would have nothing left if it went through that treatment.

        • epicurus

          Kind of like the movie “Troy” with Brad Pitt that came out years ago and was basically a movie version of the Iliad with one big difference. They stripped out all the god’s and their intervention and bickering, with makes up a huge chunk of the book, and boiled it down to a siege with the inevitable big battles and special effects. No divine action or intervention.

        • Wait … that wasn’t a documentary?!

        • Dys

          No, I’m not missing the point – I’m stating that you’re wrong. I’m pointing out that the contents of the document affect the burden of proof just as much (if not more so) than the age of the document, and this would certainly apply in the case of comparing the bible to Plato’s works. Disregarding the content is illogical and foolish, and it’s only being done to set up a false equivalence.

        • steele

          The content makes no difference as to the date of the documents, if the date is your criteria for dismissing them,maybe my gravity example was over your head…obviously.

          Here lets try one more time. If Bob is going to claim we have copies only from the 900s and somehow that dismisses Christian sources then the same goes for the secular sources (Plato). If you want to debate the content then fine that is another matter.

        • You need to correctly articulate my position before you critique it. Perhaps once you’ve done this, you’ll see my point.

        • Dys

          The nature of the documents themselves also has to be taken into account. You can’t merely narrow everything down to the age of the documents. Intent matters.

          And the issue you seem to be running into is that your comparison doesn’t work at all because it’s not just the dates that are being taken into account. It’s the dates, the nature of the claims, the intent of the document, etc. There is no double standard when multiple factors are considered. You’re apparently trying to undermine the argument by only relying on one.

        • TheNuszAbides

          You are completely missing the point

          i suspect that long ago someone advised you to look in a mirror and that you have since tried rather too hard to (a) do so, and/or (b) convince yourself that you are good at getting others to do so.

          the burden of proof for the documents is the same regardless of the content

          there is nothing even vaguely controversial about that statement, and if you honestly believe anyone here thinks there is such controversy, you are either being willfully ignorant or you need to pay better attention. the immeasurably more significant point is that some of us prefer to prioritize expectations based on the significance (real or imagined) of (a) specific claims made in {any given document}, and (b) specific implications and conclusions derived from {any given document} by people in arguably unearned positions of power and influence over centuries of human history.

        • Kodie

          They do!

        • steele

          Your right they do that is why most scholars accept the historicity of Jesus, well except for your whacked out mythicists like Carrier.

        • Kodie

          That’s not what I meant. Having the burden of proof and meeting the burden of proof are two separate things.

        • steele

          Oh I get it atheists like to burden shift frequently but your point is moot unless you can tell me how two documents that both don’t have copies until the 900s are different somehow other than one is Christian and the other isn’t

        • Kodie

          One makes an extraordinary claim that defies the laws of nature, and bears severe punishment for not believing if it is true or not, if it is true. The other one doesn’t make an impact on anyone’s life if it is true or not. That doesn’t mean they don’t bear the same burden of proof. If you got a phone call telling you that you won this week’s grocery drawing and awarded 10 tubs of tapioca pudding, and another phone call telling you your house is on fire and your child might be trapped inside, are you really making the claim that those two things are equally important for you to find out? Are you racing to the grocery store this second to pick up your pudding only to find out it’s a hoax, or are you rushing back to your house to find out if your child is ok?

        • Pofarmer
        • steele

          Interesting site however if you didn’t have Acts I would agree more with his analysis.

          http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-evidence-for-jesus

        • Pofarmer

          He mentioned Acts in that piece. Acts doesn’t meet the criterion for even decent history for multiple reasons.

        • I’m sure I’ve already responded to most of the points here. But if you want to highlight a few that you find especially powerful, I’ll reconsider them.

        • We’ve been waiting for you! Put this issue to rest for us. Summarize Carrier’s argument and tell us why it’s “whacked out.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s almost adorable how steele seems to think he’s got the moxie to actually poison any wells.

        • MNb

          “Christian writings and secular should both have the same burden of proof.”
          Agreed. And as we reject all supernatural claims in all writings from Antiquity we reject those from the Bible as well.
          Orpheus didn’t visit the Underworld to bring back Eurydice.
          The Faraos weren’t divine.
          Alexander the Great was not a descendant from Hercules.
          The Resurrection didn’t happen.

        • Greg G.

          The claims being made will have different burdens of proof. If Paul was shipwrecked in the Adriatic Sea, it requires a lower burden of proof than if Paul was shipwrecked in the South China Sea. But even the former claim requires additional proof as the same thing appears to have happened to Josephus in chapter 3 of his autobiography, in great detail. Even the accusation against Paul being the Egyptian seems to be a conflation of the accounts of three different people In Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.5-6.

          You run into that problem with Jesus. The evidence for Jesus appears to be borrowed from other sources where they are about other people. You can throw out the supernatural claims because that is what historians do for those claims. You can also throw out the supernatural claims because they are modeled on miracles done by other people in older stories that were available to the authors of the gospels. If you apply the latter method, you can throw out just about everything. Then the claim seems to shift to “I bet there was a real person at the bottom of that circular file.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          the sacred burial ground for circular reasoning: the circular file.

        • epicurus

          I would be interested if you could speak more about this content vs consequences idea. Could you use an example that had more dire consequences than figuring out gravity?
          Kodie’s pudding example maybe?

        • TheNuszAbides

          I get what you are saying and understand you want more proof for one than the other but

          everything after the ‘but’ contradicts the first six words of that comment.

        • epicurus

          “You don’t judge the authenticity of a work by the importance it holds.”
          Just to be clear, when you say don’t, do you mean shouldn’t? Because I’m saying scholars DO judge a work based on the importance it hold’s. If their salvation depended on it, they would say no, we can’t really know anything about Caesar, or Plato.

        • steele

          No you DON’T if you want to be objective, shouldn’t is only if you have a vested interested in the outcome. Maybe you are right scholars do it just as anyone else but the goal should be to not do it

        • Ever wonder why there’s far more scholarship devoted to the claim, “Jesus Christ rose from the dead” than “Socrates drank hemlock”? What do you suppose explains this imbalance of interest?

        • Kodie

          You don’t get it.