Monday, March 18, 2013

Relying on the Gospels

I do love it when apologists pretend to be experts on information sources, as Eric Metaxas did in a recent Christian Post article.  For the record, it's unclear whether Metaxas is an expert in anything, since the bio page on his website fails to mention his degree.

In his article, Metaxas meekly tries to provide support for the idea that the Gospels are reliable sources.  His whole piece is based on a false premise, and he offers exactly two arguments to back himself up:

"But what if the Gospels are indeed what they claim to be? Eyewitness accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?"
False premise.  They never claim to be that.  They aren't written in the first person, and even if you believe every word of them, they describe numerous events that the author could not have been present for, like the temptation of Jesus in the desert, as well as the resurrection itself.  So Metaxas is defending the idea that they are something that they aren't, even with the most literal reading.

Here is the entirety of his support:
"If the young church wanted to make up a rosy propaganda piece about its leaders, they would not have painted the picture of Peter as a coward and the other disciples as consistently clueless!"
False dichotomy.  He's saying that if they aren't propaganda, then they're true.  And the best he can do to argue against their being propaganda is to suggest that he'd have written them differently if they were?

"Or take the role of women in the Gospel of Mark. They were the first to discover the empty tomb. But in the Jewish and Roman worlds, women couldn't serve as witnesses in court! So there's no way Mark or any of the gospels would rely on their testimony-unless, of course, the women really were eyewitnesses and what they said really happened."
But if the Gospel authors wouldn't have relied on their testimony, then it wouldn't matter whether that testimony was true or not!

Apologists everywhere are going to have to do a lot better than that if they want to convince those of who really are experts on the reliability of sources.


  1. Comment from Thoughts For Young Men censored due to ban.

  2. So a degree make you an expert? What makes a degree reliable? The fact of the matter is there are multiple documents written about JESUS by many difference sources outside of the church. So all those writing are unreliable? What about the egyptian hieroglyphics? are those reliable sources? What makes a source reliable?

  3. Well, no. The advanced training I went through to earn my degree is what makes me an expert. Along with the fact that I teach information literacy for a living and am always undergoing continuing education and professional development. I take it very seriously.

    If you would kindly cite the sources you're referring to, I'd be happy to provide an evaluation of them. I'm especially interested in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, considering the Egypt was a Roman province by the time Jesus was supposedly born.

    As for what makes a source reliable, there are lots of considerations; I could teach a semester-long class on it. For starters you'd want to look at who wrote it (are they qualified in the discipline in question?), what the intent was (is there bias? are there trying to provoke a reaction?), how well-supported the content is (where are they getting their information?), and the venue in which the information is published (is there any quality control, like peer review or an editorial process?). A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether the source would be acceptable in an academic setting, like in a paper you'd write for a college course.