jimmyakin.com/wp-content/uploads/AaronAdair-300x290.jpgAmong skeptics, Dr. Aaron Adair is sometimes hailed as the “go to” guy on the Star of Bethlehem.
He’s even written a book arguing that the Star didn’t exist.
Recently, he engaged a post I wrote about the Star of Bethlehem.
Here is my reply . . .
First Things First
First, you can read our previous interaction in the comments box on this post.
I want to thank Dr. Adair for striving to maintain a positive tone, both in the combox and in his book, The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View.
Although he has occasional lapses (who doesn’t?), it’s clear that he is striving to avoid the kind of snark and venom that are often found in works by some skeptics.
As a non-fan of snark and venom (including when it is used by Catholics), I appreciate that.
In his book, Adair rightly argues against a number of interpretations of what the Star was, and this is to be expected.
The Star can’t have been all of the different things that have been proposed, and some of the proposals are easier to rule out than others.
Sometimes part of his argument is based on the erroneous (but popular) idea that Jesus was born sometime before 4 B.C.
Because he uses the more popular dating, Adair too quickly discounts some possible understandings of the Star, but even in these cases, he has an argument to fall back on.
Adair’s Ultimate Argument
For Adair, the ultimate argument against any understanding of the Star as a natural (but providential) phenomenon, is based on the alleged motion of the Star as described by Matthew.
This argument is found in chapter 7 of his book, “********** Failure of All Natural Hypotheses,” and it is regularly presented as the “clincher” for why any particular view of the Star as a natural phenomenon cannot be true.
Adair summarizes the argument this way:
Matthew talks about a Star that travels south towards a particular destination, leading on eastern sages, until it comes to its destination, stops and hangs over a particular hovel in the small town of Bethlehem. No object in the sky can do such a thing, not by a long shot.
Although I had not read Adair’s book when I wrote my original post, this was precisely the view I was arguing against.
The text of Matthew does not, in fact, require the star to move in an abnormal manner.
So in the combox, I asked Adair how he would respond, and he provided a brief response.
Since he has more length to argue his view in his book, however, I will reply to what is found there.