No Evidence for a Historical Jesus or Evolution?

No Evidence for a Historical Jesus or Evolution? July 19, 2011

I am struck once again by how similar the repeated assertion by Earl Doherty and other mythicists that “there is no evidence for a historical Jesus” resembles the similar-sounding claim of creationists that there is “no evidence for evolution.” The truth clearly is both that there is evidence, and that because we are in both instance dealing with theories (in the scientific sense), it is not a matter of finding one fossil or one text and that “proving” the case. A theory is a way of organizing multiple pieces of data in order to make the best sense of them not just individually but in relation to one another.

If someone tells you “there is no evidence for X” you will do well to get a second opinion. An honest scholar will not say, to give a comparison, that “there is no evidence for a historical David,” but will acknowledge that there is indeed an inscription referring to a “house of David,” and that there is no dispute that at least some of what we have in the Bible is legend/fiction, and will explain why they personally or the majority of scholars draw a particular conclusion.

How do you respond to people who say “There is no evidence for a historical Jesus” or “There is no evidence for evolution”? Although obviously the fields and the data sets in the two instances are not comparable, is it instructive nonetheless to acknowledge that both are attempts to circumvent historical deductive reasoning by pretending evidence is not only susceptible to more than one interpretation but actually not there?


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