Question about atheist arguments that there is no evidence/history of Biblical validity

First off, I’m not an atheist trying to troll, since that may seem to be the case as I’ve not posted anything before this.

I happened to stumble across a website on of my Facebook friends had shared, who had previously been Catholic but now seems to be moving towards atheism. A few points that caught my attention from the site/blog (link: patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/about/):

"3. I looked for evidence for many of the claims I believed and realized that there was no reputable evidence at all. I could believe Jesus was resurrected, or that Moses parted the Red Sea, but there was no evidence outside oral stories recorded by unknown biased authors many decades (or, as with Moses, many centuries) after the fact.

  1. I researched the history and authorship of the Bible from a secular perspective. After I realized the messy history of the Bible, and saw all the contradictions and absurdities, I could not believe in inspiration much less infallibility, and any faith I still had crashed down."

Could anyone give some feedback on how you would respond to those two points? I personally do find myself pondering these arguments, and I’m just wondering how valid they actually are, from the Catholic perspective. It might be worth noting that the author of this blog used to be a fundamentalist Christian.

Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Justin

Justin,

This type of thought isn’t too uncommon. For those who are raised as fundamentalist Christians, when they have to face the fact that their system of belief has gaping holes (for instance, the requirement that that the earth must be 6000 years old, and that everything in the Bible must be literal on its face)… well, at that point, it’s not difficult to see that their faith will be shaken.

Here’s the problem, though: in their attempt to move toward ‘rationality,’ they reach the wrong conclusion: rather than concluding that their particular take on Christianity is wrong, they conclude that Christianity itself is wrong. Not too surprising a conclusion, of course, if their take on Christianity is the only one that they have encountered…!

So, his points are rife with error. “No reputable evidence” for the resurrection? That’s quite the claim! It begs the question of what ‘reputable evidence’ is, doesn’t it? If he means “physical evidence,” then he’s saying that he doesn’t believe just about anything that happened in antiquity – after all, what physical evidence do we have of these people and events?

“Contradictions and absurdities” in the Bible? Only if you approach it from the point of view that it must all be literal, from a fundamentalist’s perspective. If you take the Catholic approach to understanding the Bible, then the ‘contradictions’ disappear, and ‘absurdities’ are resolved.

Hope this helps!

G.

I don’t pay much attention to such claims, as it seems that many atheist objectors are quite uninformed about real biblical scholarship or religious studies. A few years in seminary doing term papers would sharpen their skills.

Your atheist acquaintence, should talk to Israeli anthropoligists and archeologists who are making discoveries that proove the historic Bible.
In addition, If he does not believe in the Historic Jesus because their is not biblicle proof of Him outside of the Bible, Ask him if he believes that Julius Caesar, Tiberius Caesar, Nero, or Napoleon, existed?----or any US President that was alive before photography!
Unfortunately, most of these atheists are so ego-centric in their beliefs that you could feed him/her book loads of knowledge and have them discuss matters with internationally famed experts and it would do no good. They know better.

The Gospel authors are hardly “unknown.” There were thousands of witnesses to Christ’s miracles and His Resurrection. These people were willing to give their lives for their new faith. The life of Christ is better documented than almost any other historical personage.

You definitely have to look at the bible with different lenses depending on which book you are reading. It doesn’t mean that things are false, just that literal acts may have been written in a more symbolic language. I mean, looking at my own life, I may take many of my experiences and write about them symbolically. When I came back to the Church, I might say God spoke to me. I don’t literally mean that we had a literal conversation.

In terms of biblical validity, this is always coming into question but there has never actually been a definite source that could truly conclude it is false. At least in terms of Jesus Christ, one has to wonder what would inspire the apostles, many of whose actions are well documented, to spread a fake religion. If they were not incredibly inspired by Jesus then why would they disperse, travel across the known world, in some cases face imprisonment or death, to tell this tale? Rationality says these people must have truly believed in Jesus. To say they were fooled by superstition is at best grasping at straws because there is ample evidence that humans were actually quite intelligent in that era.

Still, if people do not want to believe then there is little you can do to convince them. The best thing to do is to always be open to discuss faith, always be there to support your friends and be an example, and be patient with others as they struggle to find their way. The world has so many belief systems it is easy to find yourself lost.

Try these:
shop.catholic.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/s/h/shopsize-4.jpgshop.catholic.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/f/a/faith-of-the-fatherless.jpgshop.catholic.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/g/o/godless-delusion.jpg

This is correct - there is a real lack of evidence to support these stories. We dont know who wrote these stories, when or what sources were used.

Correct again - the bible has contradictions and absurdities. This is obvious from a simple google search.

Jesus wrote nothing. What he “claimed” to have said is written in stories by anonyomous people written at unknown dates using unknown sources.

With the internet making this information well known and available most young people are turning to atheism.

This is not true, and some basic research will demonstrate that your claims are incorrect. Do we know who wrote the books of the Bible in the same way that we know who wrote Harry Potter? Of course not; but, then again, we know with the same type of certainty that we know about the provenance of books from antiquity!

Correct again - the bible has contradictions and absurdities. This is obvious from a simple google search.

WIth all due respect, this kind of claim from atheists usually is a quite shallow claim. Either it means “there are details in the Gospels that aren’t 100% word-for-word” (which is just silly – eyewitness accounts are never identical in their details), which doesn’t take into account that the Gospels were written for distinct audiences; or it means that the person making this claim is taking a fundamentalist’s stance of requiring that everything in the Bible must be taken literally on its face (which is a failure to recognize the various genre of literature present in the Bible). Either way, this claim is easily rebutted.

Jesus wrote nothing. What he “claimed” to have said is written in stories by anonyomous people written at unknown dates using unknown sources.

As I’m sure you’re aware, most historical figures in antiquity “wrote nothing;” yet, that doesn’t make us doubt the claims of those writers who chronicled the events of their lives. Why should we hold the writers of Scripture to a different standard than other writers of antiquity?

With the internet making this information well known and available most young people are turning to atheism.

Yes… the internet does seem particularly good at presenting half-truths and outright lies as ‘fact,’ and doing so in such a way as to deceive those who encounter these distortions… :wink:

(and p.s., it’s also not true that “most young people are turning to atheism.” Unless you have some statistics to back that up, we’ll just take it as a good example of the kind of baseless bluster that can be found on the internet… :wink: )

Cheers,

G.

Hi Gorgias, My phrase “most young people” was with regards to the UK rather than the US, although the same trend towards irreligion is noticable.

In the UK, when asked if they [18-24 year olds] believe in God, only 25% say they do. 19% believe in some non-Godlike “spiritual greater power” and a further 38% believe in no God or spiritual power whatsoever."
yougov.co.uk/news/2013/06/24/british-youth-reject-religion/

In the US, “One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.”
pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/

Truth isn’t affected by how many people believe it.

Hmm. So, to your mind, 38% is ‘most’ British youth? And here I thought maths education in the U.S. was bad! :wink:

Even if you wanted to claim that ‘most British youth are atheists,’ though, you wouldn’t be able to support that claim, since the survey that you yourself cited demonstrates that 44% of respondents believe in a higher spiritual power (whether that be a personal God or an impersonal power). So, by the very data that you supplied, you claim fails. Sorry… :wink:

I noticed that to as well and he must believe unaffiliated means not believing. :shrug:

These claims, which are common among materialists, are not claims based on objective criteria or historical analysis, but rather are designed a priori to disregard Biblical claims of miracles or other supernatural events which they reject.

They do not approach the Bible objectively as an account of real history, as they would other ancient works written by ancient historians, but rather they fallaciously “raise the bar” for the Bible precisely because of the miraculous events contained and because their ideology rejects that such things are possible.

Yet they haven’t even proven that miracles are impossible, its only their assumption. Thus they beg the question.

For me, personally, trying to examine the validity of every story in the Bible and from a few stories discredit the entire scripture is a bit disingenuous, but that’s just me.

When I was doubting, it all came down to Christ. Assess His crucifixion and His resurrection. If Jesus did rise from the dead, is it not reasonable to believe that His claims were true, and is not by extension reasonable to believe He inspired Scripture? (One must also research the difference between Biblical inerrancy and inspiration)

We know Jesus was crucified. We then know something happened. This could be anything ranging from the resurrection to some hallucination being experienced by all the Apostles simultaneously.

Whatever it was, it was convincing enough for the Apostles to preach it as the truth… to preach it to the death! They experienced something marvellous, something which so convicted them that they would be prepared to die for their claim that Jesus rose from the dead.

This isn’t one crazy hallucinating man. These are twelve men. Twelve men who went onto preach this revolutionary message of the wonderful love of God and His salvation, Jesus Christ, and His resurrection. They were willing to be tortured and executed for this belief, so strongly they believed in it.

This isn’t like any religious fanatic dying for his belief. Anyone can believe in something strongly, whether it be passed down from a parent or taught by a religious preacher, and maybe even be convicted by it so much that they would die for it.

This was different though. This was an eyewitness experience. Before their very eyes they claimed to have seen Christ resurrected, and they believed it too, for they were willing to give their lives for it.

Once you see the evidence, it’s time to say “Okay. Maybe… just maybe… this is true. I’ll give it a shot.” Because imagine it is true. Isn’t it wonderful? I mean, for anyone on this earth I just think the story of Jesus is a beautiful and captivating idea. Imagine this, that this all-powerful, all-knowing, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Creator of our universe, the Alpha and Omega… God. Imagine Him, moved out of His divine Love, came down to earth in flesh to save us from our sins, to speak to us face to face and show us the way, the truth, and the life.

I would stay away from that site until you gather more information about Jesus. Much of what they say can seem convincing at first. Of course it’s mostly fluff once you get to the core. Just my :twocents:

"3. I looked for evidence for many of the claims I believed and realized that there was no reputable evidence at all. I could believe Jesus was resurrected but there was no evidence outside oral stories recorded by unknown biased authors many decades after the fact.

What do atheists expect? Getting a nonChristian to say that Christ has risen? Think about it: if someone saw Christ risen or knew it was true, wouldn’t they be a Christian? Interestingly enough, there was a prominent nonChristian scholar in the 20th century who believed Jesus rose from the dead.

  1. I researched the history and authorship of the Bible from a secular perspective. After I realized the messy history of the Bible, and saw all the contradictions and absurdities, I could not believe in inspiration much less infallibility, and any faith I still had crashed down."

Why is Biblical infallibility a cornerstone of their faith? The resurrection and Jesus’ divinity should be.

I think Georgias did a good job covering this. Maybe you’d be interested in reading this book by de Lubac.

According to biblical scholar Bart Ehrman, it’s in-depth biblical studies in seminary which set many onto the road of disbelief. And it isn’t just atheists who question the bible’s veracity. For example, Thomas L. Brodie, Catholic priest, founder and former director of the Dominican Biblical Institute, after decades of study, concluded that Jesus never existed as a historical figure. It’s probably safe to say he’s done his share of term papers.

It’s probably the development of critical thinking skills that causes many to disbelieve. Not that believing isn’t rational or true, but I sense that many don’t evaluate the claims of their beliefs, so when possible objections are raised they are unprepared. So Ehrman’s claim makes sense.

I wonder what Ehrman would think of Brodie’s claim. :wink:

It’s not “critical thinking” that causes disbelief, its demythologizing “theologians” and “sciprture scholars” who apply modernist methods and approaches of interpretation to the Bible which distorts the intending meaning of the Biblical writers.

They certainly don’t help. But if you never see the other side’s POV you’ll never know why they’re wrong.

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