Thursday, July 8, 2010

TGD: Chapter Three - Birth or Resurrection?

The next section of Dawkins book deals with the argument from scripture. Specifically, he deals with the argument that the New Testament provides historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God.

He makes the claim that the New Testament is not a valid or reliable source of history. He claims that the New Testament was written a long time after Jesus lived, that it was copied by scribes many times, that it contradicts the historical record, that it contradicts itself, and that its authors all had an agenda that colored their writing.

Dawkins uses the stories about the birth of Jesus as an example to prove his point. He points out the difference between the accounts in Luke and Matthew, and he points out the historical problems with the account in Luke.

There are problems with the accounts of Jesus' birth, but, from an historical standpoint, that is the least reliable part of the gospel story. The gospels were written by followers of Jesus. Jesus' first followers witnessed Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection, but none of them witnessed Jesus' birth. At best, Luke and Matthew were relying on second or third hand accounts of an event that happened almost a hundred years ago.

On the other hand, the accounts of Jesus' ministry are first or second hand accounts of events that happened fifty to seventy years ago. It's reasonable to assume that the accounts of Jesus' life or ministry are much more accurate than the accounts of Jesus' birth.

Moreover, while the doctrine of the virgin birth is important, it's not nearly as important to the Christian faith as the resurrection. The claim that Jesus was raised from the dead is the central truth claim of the Christian faith. We can see this, because nearly every book in the New Testament refers to Jesus' resurrection.

Unfortunately, Dawkins doesn't directly address the issue of whether or not Jesus rose from the dead. Instead he isolates the weakest part of the Biblical narrative and criticizes it. Then he implies that the whole story is equally unreliable.

The problem with Dawkins' argument is that the whole story isn't equally unreliable. Next week I will present the case that Jesus of Nazareth did, in fact, rise from the dead. I hope that you'll come back for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment