The Lack of Unbiased Evidence for Jesus | Hope’s Reason

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Apologetics, Evidence fo Jesus
Tags: , , ,

Here is an interesting answer to a critic’s assertion that no unbiased evidence of Jesus exists. 

The Lack of Unbiased Evidence for Jesus

Posted on November 14, 2012 | 1 Comment

When I speak to critics and skeptics, it is common to hear comments about the lack of unbiased evidence for Jesus from the first century.  They reject the New Testament evidence for Jesus as biased and point out that we lack the unbiased evidence for Jesus that as historians we would want.  I have all sorts of things I could say about the historical value of the New Testament despite the bias, but I am not going to go there.

I want to take a moment to think about this complaint about the lack of unbiased evidence.  What exactly would that look like?  Can someone give me an example of what an unbiased report about Jesus would be?  What sort of text would we be looking for?  Would we like a first century text by a Pharisee or a Sadducee that spoke about Jesus?  I would like to see that.  But I still do not see how that would be unbiased.  From everything we know, the Pharisees and Sadducees greatly disliked Jesus and wanted to see him dead.  That is hardly unbiased.  What about a Roman report?  Wouldn’t it be great if we found a report written by Pontius Pilate about Jesus’ trial?  I would love to see that.  But this is the person who signed Jesus’ death sentence.  Could he be considered unbiased by any stretch of the imagination?  To be honest, I cannot think of any possible example of a first century account of Jesus that would be unbiased.  Truth be told, I doubt there has been an unbiased account of Jesus in any century.

So when a skeptic says they won’t believe in Jesus unless they have an unbiased account of Jesus from the first century, they are doing the same thing as a child saying to their parent, “If you really love me, draw me a square circle, otherwise I will not believe you.”  It just is not possible.

This of course leads us back to the New Testament.  If the New Testament is rejected as being a biased account and if it is impossible to be unbiased, what really is the problem with the New Testament?  Do not get me wrong, as a historian I would love to see a great discovery of non-biblical first century reports of Jesus.  That would be extremely exciting.  But let us not fool ourselves about this whole biased versus unbiased business.

via The Lack of Unbiased Evidence for Jesus | Hope’s Reason.

Think on that for a while.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
jadams012@gmail.com
christianreasons@gmail.com
http://about.me/eric.adams
http://christianreasons.com/

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Comments
  1. “They reject the New Testament evidence for Jesus as biased and point out that we lack the unbiased evidence for Jesus that as historians we would want. ”

    Some do.

    I point out that written evidence by itself is not sufficient to prove extraordinary, supernatural or paranormal claims.

    It’s not only the fact that you have no contemporary written evidence for Jesus’ existence. It’s that written evidence is all you have, and yet you (the general ‘you’) want us to believe miracle claims as well.

    • Eric Adams says:

      I would ask why would written evidence not be enough to prove the miraculous; i.e., in the case of multiple eye witness accounts?

      • I would respond with a question: do multiple eye witness accounts prove that people have been abducted by aliens? Because I have a lot of them to show you.

      • Eric Adams says:

        It’s funny you should mention aliens, considering the push many atheist scientists are making against ID, citing the seeding of earth by aliens. Which brings up something I was just thinking-can we use the same argument you make against miracles for unproven claims concerning evolution, or written mathematical models of the origin of the universe? It would seem the same criterion would apply there, as well.

  2. “Which brings up something I was just thinking-can we use the same argument you make against miracles for unproven claims concerning evolution, or written mathematical models of the origin of the universe?”

    If all you had were written anecdotes, then you could use my argument against believing in miracles using only written anecdotes against them.

    As they have more than written anecdotes, you can’t.

    • Eric Adams says:

      For clarification purposes, could you give a definition of “anecdote”, please?

      • A story, written or told about an event, whether in first or third person.

        Every story in the Bible is an anecdote. Unless the claim is backed up by further evidence (the location of a city or records of a ruler’s existence, for example) or the claim is particularly ordinary, you would need further evidence to back up the claims made.

      • Eric Adams says:

        Why would the claim need to be backed up by further evidence? Do you require the same of any other literature?

      • If the literature is making supernatural claims that it expects me to believe, then yes, I require the same of any other literature.

  3. Eric Adams says:

    I appreciate your dialogue with me. It’s a good thing for folks of diverse opinions to engage in argumentation. In doing so, you are helping me to clarify my own beliefs. For that, I am grateful.

    The Bible makes many verifiable statements about history, places, and things that have been proven by historical research, and archaelogical discovery. Why would that not be enough to at least consider the possibility that the miraculous events written therein are true? What kind of evidence would you require to at least be open to a metaphysical cause?

    • “Why would that not be enough to at least consider the possibility that the miraculous events written therein are true?”

      Because someone saying something, whether in writing or in person, is not sufficient evidence for some claims.

      Some claims are simple: say, you claimed to have a pet dog. That is ordinary. I have experience with people owning dogs. I have owned a dog before. And, if I wanted to, I could verify your claim relatively simply. Even if you were lying, it would be reasonable to believe you had a dog based only on your claim of owning one.

      Now, say, you claimed that your pet dog could fly by flapping her ears? That is an extraordinary claim. I have no experience with flying dogs. I have seen no documentation, photos or pictures of flying dogs. In fact, all I know (or think I know) about dog biology and the way that the world works tends to tell me that a dog flying by flapping his ears is unlikely if not impossible. I would need more than just your word that the dog could do this. I would need, at least, a video or picture to take the claim seriously. And then I would need to investigate it fully.

      So yes, the Bible does make some verifiable statements about history, places and things. Those statements are ordinary and, as you say, are also verifiable. Even if we didn’t have verification about some of them, the fact that there was a city called Jerusalem (for example) is not an extraordinary claim.

      The writings of Gaius Julius Caesar also make some verifiable statements about history, places and things. Those writings also claim that Caesar is the descendent of the goddess Venus.

      Should we believe that claim? A lot of other things that are written by Caesar are true. Does that make everything he wrote necessarily true?

      That is the same reason why I do not accept the supernatural claims in the Bible. Or the Koran. Or the Bhagavad Gita.

      “What kind of evidence would you require to at least be open to a metaphysical cause?”

      Repeatable, empirical evidence that can be viewed now in real time by real people.

      I know we can’t have that for historical supernatural claims. But if the supernatural was common and easily verifiable through observation and evidence, then maybe we could start taking the historical claims a bit more seriously.

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