Look Out! It’s the Old Testament!

Sam Harris, like other New Atheists, makes an appeal to the perceived atrocities of the Old Testament in order to undermine Christianity. He begins this not long after he starts the Letter to a Christian Nation. In my previous post, I explained the most important response the Christian has to an atheist who complains about the morality of the Old Testament. If atheists complain about the morality of the Old Testament, against which standard are they measuring the Old Testament? They are measuring it against their own moral intuitions or moral sentiments. In the last post we saw that moral sentiments are extremely fickle. They change from society to society, from culture to culture, and they change throughout history. There are very few moral rules which are universally recognized and they certainly could not sustain a fully-developed morality which grounds all that we care about and all that atheists care about. This makes all atheist complaints about the immorality of the Bible vacuous. Take a look at my earlier post for a more detailed treatment of this argument.

That, in itself, is enough to respond to an atheist appeal to Old Testament immorality. The second point is that the truth of Christianity is not dependent upon everything in the Bible, and especially everything in the Old Testament, being true. The truth of Christianity is dependent upon certain fundamental truths, contained, for example, in the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed being true. These contain the “broad strokes” of biblical truth and they are the real important things to believe if you are a Christian. Neither of the creeds contain a belief in biblical inerrancy, although they do contain some reference to the inspiration of the prophets. This is important to remember, because it means that any complaint about the immorality of the Old Testament does not imply the falsity of Christianity, only the falsity of a particular doctrine in Christianity (namely inerrancy). It is not necessary for all the laws of ancient Israel, nor all the actions of Israel that were declared to be divinely sanctioned, be true, in order for the doctrines of Christianity to be true.

Thirdly, we must also take a look at the circumstances the Israelites were in. They were in the middle of the desert. They were constantly on the move, and they didn’t have a lot of food and water. In such circumstances, it is difficult to retain order. They are surrounded by aggressive tribes who worship cattle, practice human sacrifice and all sorts of sexually deviant rituals. There are no prisons or internment camps where they can put troublesome individuals and very little way to create this sort of thing. These Israelites have already shown that they “like the style” of the nations around them – they like the idea of worshiping cattle as well, along with the other horrible practices that tend to go with this. These facts need to be borne in mind when the Old Testament seems very harsh and cruel, when we read how liberal it was with the death penalty. For example, Harris is scandalized by the injunction to execute fellow Israelites who try to get people to worship other gods.[1] But when the “other gods” represent idols to which you sacrifice children and in whose honour you practice ritual bestiality, then I think the death is probably an appropriate penalty for engaging in this sort of religion.

Why were the ancient Israelites tempted to engage in these religions? It is not mysterious. People are tempted to do what their peers are doing. To young people today it is cool and hip to listen to certain types of music and to regard orthodox Christianity as homophobic or bigoted in some vague, generalized way. To people in Moses’ day, it was cool to worship cows and sacrifice your children to them. Moral sentiments – aren’t they wonderful? Historical facts like these are good evidence that the idea that every human being has an immutable moral conscience is completely false.

But let us get to other specific examples Harris mentions to undermine Christianity. He mentions that the Old Testament adjures us to “stone people to death for heresy, adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, worshiping graven images, practicing sorcery, and wide variety of other imaginary crimes.”[2] It is interesting that Harris calls these “imaginary crimes”, because that is where the weakness in his argument lies. It is clearly wrong to punish people for committing these things, if they were imaginary crimes. But what if they were not? Harris’s argument only goes through easily if he assumes that they are imaginary crimes. This would mean that the argument is circular: Christianity is wrong because the Old Testament punishes people for imaginary crimes, and they are imaginary crimes because Christianity is wrong. Obviously, the laws in the Bible would be wrong if God did not exist, because then they would be punishing people for dishonouring something that doesn’t exist. They would also be adjuring people to honor something that does not exist. But would the laws in the Old Testament be wrong if the God of the Bible did exist and the circumstances of the Israelites were as I described them?

[1] Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation, (New York: Knopf, 2006) p. 8

[2] Ibid., p. 8

13 thoughts

  1. Oh my, I do enjoy seeing a Christian saying that their bible isn’t true, at least the parts that they find embarrassing or don’t like. In that every Christians uses a different magic decoder ring to tell them what their god “really” meant, there is no reason to believe any of you since none of you can fulfill what a Christian evident is, defined by the bible, a baptized believer of JC as savior who can do the same miracles as JC could. None of you are out there healing children with cancer, so you must not be Christians at all. Why should anyone believe you at all?

    “In my previous post, I explained the most important response the Christian has to an atheist who complains about the morality of the Old Testament. If atheists complain about the morality of the Old Testament, against which standard are they measuring the Old Testament? They are measuring it against their own moral intuitions or moral sentiments. In the last post we saw that moral sentiments are extremely fickle. They change from society to society, from culture to culture, and they change throughout history. ”

    Yep, the bible is one excellent example of this change. The bible shows a change in morality, so poof goes the idea of an objective morality from your god. it also shows that Christians pick and choose their bible to make their god in their image. This happens especially well when a Christian tries to claim that genocide and the murder of people is okay if their god wants to do it but isn’t okay if a human does the exact same thing. Their morals become subjective dependent on what the actor is. If morality was objective, genocide would be a bad thing no matter who did it. One also has to ask about a god that intentionally allows evil to rise and corrupt its faithful after they have lived under JC’s rule for an eon (revelation 19-21). Is this god simply evil or is this god not omnipotent as claimed?

    Unfortunately for Christians, they each want to claim that their personal morality is their god’s morality and that this morality has been around for eternity. Of course, each makes the claim and none can show it is true. It’s also great to see the author insisting that this god simply just couldn’t handle the Israelites. Doesn’t say much for an omnipotent being, does it?

    ad at the end we have the good ol’ pascal’s wager brought up: “But what if they were not?” Well, author, as soon as you can show your version of your god to exist, then Harris’ point remains, your nonsense is imaginary.

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  2. Hi Clubschadenfreude. Thank you for reacting. During the post ( the previous one, and the one before that…) you will find I never said that anything in the Bible is false. I’m not sure why it should give you a sense of vindication that Christians don’t necessarily believe everything in the Bible. This feeling of vindication can only be because of your implicit belief that inerrancy is an indispensable Christian belief and that not believing it must mean atheists have won a victory. As shown in the piece, it is not and has never been, a central Christian belief, which is why your sense of vindication is misplaced.

    It seems that you’re making some vague reference to the fact that Christians no longer adhere to many of the Old Testament laws and that this is because they find it embarrassing or personally dislike it. This is completely false. All ( or the vast vast majority) of Christians have always believed that many of the Old Testament laws no longer apply for at least 2 reasons briefly summarized here. 1) Because Jesus was the final sacrifice, doing away with the need for the rules about ritual purity and sacrifices. This idea is found in the New Testament ( especially the book of Hebrews). 2) The ceremonial laws are specifically declared to no longer apply in the New Testament in Acts 15. In Acts 15, we are given specific instruction about which ceremonial laws are still deemed valid along with a reaffirming the importance of sexual morality. And other ceremonial and ritual laws, like eating “unclean” things or celebrating certain festivals, circumcision etc. are done away with in various places throughout the New Testament. You cannot claim that the early Christians did this because they were embarrassed of it, because most of the early Christians were Jews and had kept these laws throughout their lives and lived in societies where it was the norm. There was no social pressure on them to abandon these laws ( as there is on us today) . In fact, the social pressure would have been the opposite direction – to continue to keep the Jewish ceremonial laws, which is why there were Christians movements that attempted to retain the ceremonial laws.

    You claim that the Bible itself underwent change in morality. As explained above, what changed is the adherence to the ceremonial laws, and laws of ritual purity. Christians still regard all the moral laws of the Old Testament as valid and Christian societies regarded the Old Testament moral laws as valid (which is why homosexuality was criminalized in Western countries until recently). And the fact that adherence to these laws changed has nothing to do with objectivity. Israel was a state, and like any political entity, its laws are as much a function of practicality as morality. And that practicality is determined by its circumstances and the character of it’s people. To say that legal and even moral requirements change to some degree based on circumstance does not undermine objective morality. Everybody, including yourself, recognizes this. But as already mentioned, what changed is not the adherence to moral laws, but adherence to laws or ritual purity. Apart from this, you fail to address the point that moral intuition is far more variable than the Bible from culture to culture and throughout the course of history. Even if you are correct that the Bible’s moral compass has shifted, if you want to judge the Bible based on fickle moral intuitions, then you have as little justification for saying what is right as the Bible does, because both are then fickle. But you are wrong. Even if the bible’s morality has changed, moral intuitions are far more changeable from culture to culture and throughout history. Think of all the wildly different things that people have regarded as right with stone cold conviction.

    You say “This happens especially well when a Christian tries to claim that genocide and the murder of people is okay if their god wants to do it but isn’t okay if a human does the exact same thing.” Well obviously if God exists he has the prerogative to end human life when he sees fit. If you don’t recognize this, then you are as good as assuming that God cannot exist – only a very powerful human being can exist. God is a being whose idea of what is right is better than yours. If you think that such a being cannot exist, then you are simply assuming atheism and so arguing in a circle. If the human idea of the good cannot be improved upon, then a God cannot exist, because, God, if he exists, will obviously have a better idea of what is good and right than we do. If God exists, he is sovereign, which means he has to decide when people die and when they live. He has to deliver judgment, by for example, destroying evil people.

    I did not say that God couldn’t handle the Israelites. I said that harshness may have been required to keep them in check. That is what happens when you create beings with the freedom to reject you and your commands. To say that God must be able to get free creatures to perfectly adhere to his commands is tantamount to affirming a contradiction. This would mean that God can do the logically contradictory. He can create creatures that can freely reject him and fully determine them to live in obedience to his commands. And if God can do the logically contradictory, then there is no need for me to have this discussion with you, because any logical or rational problem you can point to can then simply be answered by appeal to omnipotence. You make a reference to the problem of evil ( by appealing to revelation 19-21). Pleas take a look at my article on the problem of evil here.

    Finally, I made no use of Pascal’s wager in the article. You’ll have to be more clear about what you mean here. And as for your challenge to show the existence of God, my site is filled with arguments for God’s existence and reference to philosophers who develop them better than I do. You only need to look. Will you look? With an honest and open mind? Without knee-jerk skepticism and mockery? That is my challenge to you.

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  3. That the Pentateuch is nothing but historical fiction is really all that should need to be pointed out to the average believer.
    The problem, however, lies in the fact that, even though it is historical fiction Christians have built their religion/faith upon this bedrock and taken the many of the ideas gleaned from the OT into the world at large and justified much of these based on this fictional text.

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    1. Hi Arkenaten. Thanks for your reactions. Who is your source for claiming that the Pentateuch is completely false? It seems unlikely that even very skeptical scholars would go as far as to claim that, given that many archaeological discoveries have corroborated the Biblical account. Take a look at the following books:

      https://www.amazon.ca/Zondervan-Handbook-Biblical-Archaeology-Archaeological-ebook/dp/B01863JLN4/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1546391907&sr=8-1


      https://www.amazon.ca/Biblical-Archaeology-Introduction-Discoveries-Reliability/dp/1502467070/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1546394012&sr=8-2&keywords=biblical+archaeology

      There is sometimes an attitude to the Bible both in popular intellectualism and sometimes in the academia, that the Bible is “guilty until proven innocent” – that is, it is false until proven true. But this attitude is irrational. Ancient text must be approached with neutrality in order to be truly objective in determining reliability. Also, this attitude is not applied to other documents of similar type. Many archaeological discoveries have confirmed some of what is in the Old Testament, and you cannot say that just because some of it has not been corroborated by other texts or artifacts, that it must therefore be false ( because this would be to presuppose that the Bible is unreliable or false).

      You might say that this attitude is justified because the Bible contains supernatural events. But this presupposes atheism ( because it presupposes that supernatural events must be false) and therefore, any argument for atheism that appeals to it will be circular. Moreover, Herodotus also records supernatural events. This does not stop historians from regarding him as a reliable source. Thirdly, since the Bible has already been corroborated to a great extent, it would be irrational to treat it as an unreliable source

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      1. I used the term Historical fiction so right off the bat you come across as a careless reader or perhaps you are being disingenuous? Either or, on this basis, I am disinclined to read any links you may offer.
        Perhaps you should get a grasp of basic English terms first?

        Archaeologists are the primary source for my assertion and many of these are highly regarded experts in this field. William Devers, for example was once a devout Christian.
        But historians generally do not afford much if any credence to the Pentateuch these days.

        The Pentateuch has absolutely no corroboration for its religious claims which are simply geopolitical foundational myth. These include, the Noachian Flood tale and the Captivity Exodus and Conquest.

        As for the latter, there is evidence that shows an alternate history of the Israelites and this is called the Settlement Pattern.

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      2. Historical fiction is a type of fiction.
        How did I misrepresent you by saying “fiction” instead of “historical fiction”? You will not look at ( at least potential ) evidence because I offended you? Those books show the archaeological discoveries that corroborate parts of the Old Testament.

        When you say that the Pentateuch has no corroboration for it’s religious claims, I’m assuming you’re dividing it’s claims into more mundane claims and the miracle claims. There is external corroboration for some of what is in the Pentateuch.

        But sure, the earliest parts of the Bible has little by way of external corroboration, which is exactly what you would expect for texts that are so old. That doesn’t mean they are false. As we get to more recent texts, the events, names and places gain more corroboration, especially when you get to the Hebrew kingdoms. However, the amount of corroboration even for a book like Genesis might surprise you. Take a look at “On the Reliability of the Old Testament” by K.A. Kitchen.

        But the main point here is that we do not need corroborating evidence for every single claim in the Bible in order for Christianity to be true. There are many claims in the Bible that can be false without damaging the basic structure of Christian belief. These questions are academic, and not of cataclysmic consequence for Christianity as you might believe. Old Testament passages that are simply obscure and uncertain can be believed based on other grounds ( the central parts of Christianity, such as the resurrection and other Christian evidences, like prophecy, that has good evidence and that indicates, by implication, that the Old Testament is reliable.)

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      3. Historical fiction is a type of fiction.
        How did I misrepresent you by saying “fiction” instead of “historical fiction”? You will not look at ( at least potential ) evidence because I offended you?

        You did not use the word ‘’fiction’’. These are your exact words. Who is your source for claiming that the Pentateuch is completely false? 
        Surely you’re reading ability is not that bad that you would stoop to being disingenuous, now is it?

        Those books show the archaeological discoveries that corroborate parts of the Old Testament.

        As you didn’t identify a single discovery, for now I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and reiterate the term historical fiction.
        A Harry Potter story may identify the city of London but this does not mean that Harry Potter is a real historical character. I sincerely hope you are able to grasp this?

        When you say that the Pentateuch has no corroboration for it’s religious claims, I’m assuming you’re dividing it’s claims into more mundane claims and the miracle claims. There is external corroboration for some of what is in the Pentateuch.

        Again … Historical Fiction. The tales are all part of Jewish Foundation Myth. The major themes are all fiction. Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, Tower of Babal, Exodus etc.

        But sure, the earliest parts of the Bible has little by way of external corroboration, which is exactly what you would expect for texts that are so old. That doesn’t mean they are false.

        I have already mentioned the Internal Settlement Pattern that outlines an alternate history and has corroboratory archaeological evidence.

        As we get to more recent texts, the events, names and places gain more corroboration, especially when you get to the Hebrew kingdoms. However, the amount of corroboration even for a book like Genesis might surprise you. Take a look at “On the Reliability of the Old Testament” by K.A. Kitchen.

        Thank you. I am aware of Kenneth Kitchen.
        Kitchen is an Egyptologist and a respected expert in his particular field.
        However, he is also a Christian Fundamentalist. His views are greatly influenced by his faith. He has never published a peer-reviewed book or article on Exodus and as far as I am aware and because of his fundamentalist Christian worldview is not held in any great standing on this matter by archaeologists or scholars.

        But the main point here is that we do not need corroborating evidence for every single claim in the Bible in order for Christianity to be true. There are many claims in the Bible that can be false without damaging the basic structure of Christian belief. These questions are academic, and not of cataclysmic consequence for Christianity as you might believe. Old Testament passages that are simply obscure and uncertain can be believed based on other grounds ( the central parts of Christianity, such as the resurrection and prophecy, that has good evidence and that indicates, by implication, that the Old Testament is reliable.)

        You were doing reasonably well until this final paragraph which is nothing but a hand-waving piece of apologetics.
        Evidence is key.
        There is no evidence for prophecy or resurrection. That is an absurd statement that no historian or genuine biblical scholar will countenance.
        If you are simply going to disregard evidence for faith then you have no business making any truth claims unless you can produce evidence.
        So far you have offered absolutely nothing that does no reinforce what I have written.

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      4. I’m sure you can identify some truths in even the most “fictional” fiction. So, saying that you think the Old Testament is completely false based on the fact that you called it fiction is reasonable. Normally, when someone calls the truth-claims of others “fiction”, this means they think it is complete rubbish from a factual point of view. If your view depends so heavily on this concept, you should have spelled out what you meant more clearly. As for the concept itself, the mere fact that there isn’t external corroboration for some things doesn’t mean those things are false. The fact that these texts are so old means you would expect them to have little to no corroborating evidence. I made that point in the previous comment and you did not respond to it. If you can give me a source for the “internal settlement pattern”, I will be able to look into it.

        You claim that I’ve provided you with no discoveries. I’ve provided you with links to books about archaelogical discoveries that favour the Bible, and the name of another book by an Egyptologist about the historical reliability of the Old Testament. Why should I attempt to summarize it here in this comments section when it was compiled by people who know the material better than I do and so could give you better information?

        Saying that someone’s work should be dismissed because they have particular religious beliefs is clearly biased and commits the ad hominem fallacy. In order to be assessed objectively, that work should be assessed on it’s own merits, not the characteristics of the author. And I’d like to know your source for claiming that Kitchen is not “held in any great standing” by archaeologists or “scholars.” He is an honorary research fellow and professor emeritus at a secular English university. You make a lot of claims about the man without backing any of them up. What is your source?

        You also make a lot of claims about my final paragraph. You say that it is absurd and that no biblical scholar or historian would take it seriously. These are not counter-arguments. The only counter-argument you seem to offer is to say that resurrection and prophecy have no evidence. I’ve given you a bunch of resources on the resurrection, and my own summary for the case for the resurrection on this website. It seems like you haven’t looked at these resources and probably don’t plan to. I also have a summary on the case for miraculous prophecy. You claim that I disregard evidence for faith, but you do not back up this claim by showing how I’ve done it.

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      5. Your rhetoric has become typical fundamentalist apologetics.
        It is called the internal settlement pattern not the alternative settlement pattern.
        You seem to be making a lousy habit of not bothering to read properly and then misquoting.
        If you are really interested in evidence then Google is your friend and you can take it from there.

        Kitchen is an Egyptologist. I have told you already.
        He has nothing to offer on the Exodus and related matters. I already told you this as well.
        He is also a Christian fundamentalist.
        Dismissing his innerantist views where it comes to biblical interpretation is not ad hom. It is commonsense.
        I wrote:

        He has never published a peer-reviewed book or article on Exodus, and as far as I am aware, because of his fundamentalist Christian worldview is not held in any great standing on this matter by archaeologists or scholars.

        Note. This Matter. Referring to Exodus etc. Tell me, are you that desperate you now have to misrepresent everything I write?
        How shallow are your arguments?

        That you haven’t even tried to summarize Kitchen’s arguments strongly suggests that you haven’t read the books in question.

        Counter arguments for miracles? Are you serious? I don’t need to offer counter arguments for the same reason no ”modern” historian will countenance miracle claims for any historical individual and if you can find one that will I will retract immediately.
        (I included the caveat modern just in case you had a thought about coming back with someone like Tacitus.)
        There is no evidence for any resurrection.
        That is a blatant falsehood and demonstrates once again that you have no proper understanding of the term evidence.

        Your resources are primarily from fundamentalist Christians. Thus they are grossly biased and presuppositional.

        And please don’t come back with Strobel or Wallace.

        If you wish to demonstrate any sort of credibility cite a secular ( non christian) historian and a secular(non Christian) biblical scholar.

        Thanks.

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      6. Yes I haven’t read the whole book by Kitchen. I’ve read only parts of it. That means I certainly don’t know the material well enough to summarize it here. Even if I did, a summary here will leave out a lot of important details, because I have to summarize a 500 page book in, maybe 600 words. It is unreasonable for you to expect me to do this, especially if you are really interested looking for evidence. Read and then make up your own mind. But you want to make up your own mind without even reading him, by dismissing him out of hand, before even considering any of his arguments. Is that rational? By the way, if you can dismiss Kitchen’s arguments because his personal beliefs is related to his arguments, then you can dismiss any atheist historians’ arguments about the Bible, because their personal beliefs are also related to their arguments, in the sense that both their personal beliefs and their scholarly arguments reject the Bible as being true ( in any meaningful sense). If you can dismiss Kitchen for that reason, you should dismiss all atheist historians for the same reason. All atheist historians will allow just as much truth to the Bible so that it doesn’t threaten their metaphysical beliefs. In the same way that Kitchen will be inclined by his personal beliefs to say that the Bible is true, atheist historians will be inclined by their personal beliefs to say that the Bible is false. Also, you have merely reiterated your claim that Kitchen is not taken seriously in academia. I asked you to provide me with a source for this claim and you have not done so. Just tell me where you read that he is not taken seriously in academia. I’ve also tried to verify your claim that he has published nothing peer-reviewed about Exodus. The University of Liverpool doesn’t give a list of his publications at the department of archaeology. What is your source for saying that he hasn’t published anything peer-reviewed on Exodus? What I do know is that, as an Egyptologist, he would be familiar with the Egyptian kingdom of that time, which does come into play when considering the evidence for/against the Exodus narrative.

        Yes I’m serious. If someone has made an argument, the way to respond rationally is to make a counter-argument. If the argument is so weak and irrational, ( so weak that it amounts to no evidence whatsoever, as you claim) then it should be easy to give a knock-down counter-argument against it’s premises or the induction from premises to conclusion. But I wasn’t specifically talking about the cases for miracles. I was talking about my argument that you can believe the Old Testament based on different grounds, apart from direct corroborating evidence of every single claim ( which, as I said, is unreasonable to expect even from more modern texts). I should have elaborated on this though. If Jesus believed the Old Testament ( as he probably did, as a first century Jew who followed the Old Testament) and Jesus was vindicated by God though resurrection, then we have good grounds to believe the Old Testament. One can make a similar argument from prophecy. But one can also make the argument that where we do find external evidence, they tend to corroborate the text, or they don’t contradict the text. Based on historical grounds, this is good reason ( or as good a reason as can be obtained from historical investigation for such ancient texts) to trust the rest of the text, at least for historical detail.

        You have accused me of misrepresenting you with respect to your view of Kitchen. I don’t know why. Please explain.

        About the internal settlement pattern, I have googled this and found nothing that seemed particularly relevant, apart from some generic information about human settlement. Search terms “internal settlement pattern exodus” or “internal settlement pattern Bible” similarly does not yield much that seems relevant. I did find one article by Benjamin Mazar about “Early Israelite Settlement in the Hill Country.” I don’t know if this is what you’re referring to. I found some other results that refer to settlement patterns in the Bible, but no way to know if this is what you’re referring to. If you at least give me a little more information about it, such as what the theory is exactly, and which historian(s) propounded it, I’d be able to google it more successfully. Just tell me where you read about it. If you give me a source, then maybe we can avoid confusion or me addressing the wrong theory.

        You say, “If you wish to demonstrate any sort of credibility cite a secular ( non christian) historian and a secular(non Christian) biblical scholar.” So according to you, the way to demonstrate credibility is by citing non-Christian academics. If being a non-Christian scholar is included in your definition of credibility, then your view is close to unfalsifiable and circular. It is close to unfalsifiable, because anyone who believes, to any significant degree, what is in the bible, is probably going to be a Christian or Jew, whether they got there through historical investigation or not. This means that your definition makes it impossible to give you evidence for the veracity of the Bible, because people who do this will almost always be Christians. If you believe the Bible to any significant degree, then you are by definition some sort of Christian or Jewish theist. This view is also circular when appealed to in an argument against Christianity, because it presupposes that being a non-Christian scholar is the credible position ( as opposed to being the Christian scholar). This tacitly assumes that your own view is true, because only scholars who share your view on this matter are considered credible by you. Also, it presumes erroneously that only Christian scholars have biases. Sure, Christian scholars probably have biases in favour of their own view, but non-Christian historians, who don’t believe in the Bible, probably have biases in favour of their own views too! Your view assumes that being non-Christian automatically makes you more rational than someone who is Christian, which clearly pressuposes that Christianity is less rational and so is circular when you use this in an argument against Christianity. But even more importantly, the argument must be assessed on it’s own merits, not the characteristics of the author.

        You say that this sort of thinking is not the ad hominem fallacy. Judging a person’s argument by the characteristics of the author is a textbook example of the ad hominem fallacy. If these people are grossly biased, then their arguments should be weak and easily refuted. The argument should be assessed on it’s own merits. If you’re not doing that, you’re not rationally and objectively considering it. I am supposed to give you one historian that supports miracles. Presumably this cannot be a Christian historian, which brings me back to your definition of credibility addressed above ( and the problems with it). The fact that there are many historians who do not believe in historical miracles is a result of methodological naturalism, not historical investigation. Many historians do support the facts that undergird the case for the resurrection. I have responded to you with this case for the Resurrection in a comment on a different post.

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  4. So, no, you haven’t read the book.
    This is why you can’t even do a bullet point summary.
    Kitchen is a Christian Fundamentalist and is a well respected scholar with regards his field of expertise.
    He is not a specialist in the Exodus. Period.
    If you own a Mercedes why would you ever take it to a Citroen mechanic who has never worked on a Merc?
    In Kitchen’s case it is worse than this as there is no evidence of even a ”car”.

    His primary views on Exodus are not governed by evidence but by speculation and his (Fundamentalist)Christian faith.

    You might as well have quoted Bryant G Wood.

    So I do not have to produce any counter argument when you put forward no evidence.

    For example: Kenyon’s dating at Jericho has never been refuted. Period. This is evidence and is fact.

    Furthermore, please try to reduce the number of words in your responses as much of it is simply apologetic rhetoric and I’ll be honest I have little time or patience for it.

    Respond to my requests for evidence with evidence.

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  5. Here’s a challenge for you; one a good friend offers believers such as yourself. He won’t mind if I quote him.

    Produce a single reputable archaeologist (someone with current tenure, preferably an Israeli, and who has actually led digs) who will categorically state, in writing “The Patriarchs were real, the Israelite were in Egypt, there was an Exodus followed by a triumphant conquest of Canaan.”

    This challenge extends to finding a single Jewish Rabbi who’ll also commit to this in writing

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