Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Egnorance: The First Sunday of Advent


"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world..."

Advent is a very beautiful time in the Christian liturgical year. It is the time of waiting for joy. It begins in solemnity, in quiet music and in readings about the Promise. It's a Promise that no one understood before it happened; even after, we can contemplate for a lifetime what it means and only see a glimmer. God had promised to set things right. People imagined an emissary, a righteous leader, a king. No one dreamed that He would come Himself to do it, and come in utter humility, and set it right the way he did. 

Chesterton wrote that this story of His birth will be told as long as man exists. It is the most beautiful and astonishing story ever told, even more beautiful and astonishing because it is true.

It changed humanity, and sanctified us, and still does.


52 comments:

  1. Michael,

    Yeah, right. The gospels of Luke and Matthew are the only accounts of the birth of Jesus, and they contradict each other. Each 'solves' the problem of getting someone raised in Nazareth to be born in Bethlehem, to 'fulfill' OT 'prophesy'. Luke with an empire wide census requiring Joseph and Mary to travel from Nazareth to their 'ancestral' home of Bethlehem (there's no record of an empire wide census around the time). Matthew has Joseph and Mary living in Bethlehem, but having to flee to Egypt because of the murder of all males under the age of 2 ordered by King Herod after he'd heard of the birth of the messiah from the 3 Magi.

    And the time of year is wrong. December 25 was chosen to supplant the pagan festival for the Wnter solstice. Shepherds wouldn't be out watching their flocks at night in Winter, even in Palestine.

    Easter, though, is roughly at the right time, at the Passover. The trouble is that there was no resurrection. Matthews account is imaginative fiction.

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  2. Chesterton wrote that this story of His birth will be told as long as man exists. It is the most beautiful and astonishing story ever told, even more beautiful and astonishing because it is true.

    It is completely fabricated bullshit, and it probably will be forgotten fairly soon except by a few historians specialized in ancient superstition.

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  3. It is the most beautiful and astonishing story ever told, even more beautiful and astonishing because it is true.

    It's not particularly astonishing and beautiful, and it's not true.

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  4. "And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." (Job 1:7)

    Reading the above comments shows the Devil is getting nervous again!

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  5. Happy Advent, everyone.

    I knew this post would trigger all sorts of historical revisionism. The Incarnation really sets the godless off.

    That's testament to its power and beauty.

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  6. Pépé: Satan is imaginary too.

    mregnor: cool story bro.

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  7. That's right Pepe, whatever it takes to join Satan in the afterlife, and be rewarded with numerous horny virgins that can't talk. Spending eternity with that boring Jesus seems like hell!

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  8. A blessed and peaceful advent to all.
    Just this Wednesday the kids delivered my order's home made raisin chocolate advent calendars. The benefits go 50% to the needy families of deployed troops and 50% to a local mental health charity. I hope all you folks have fun counting down to the big day (in the West) and enjoy all the feast days and family time in-between.
    May God bless you, and the love of Christ keep you for the Advent and all your days.
    CrusadeRex

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  9. NOTE TO READERS:
    Observe the so called 'Atheists' on this page are actually ANTI-CHRISTIAN.
    Consider: Why would an Atheist care to debate the laudable and fun celebrations of a tolerant (and their native) religious tradition? Why would they CARE?
    An Atheist would not.
    They may mumble under their breaths at the 'superstitions' they see displayed, or even snicker at the capitalist rush to SELL at Christmas time (I do too!).... but to debate the core ideas with the faithful? Why on EARTH would they be bothered? They would not. Such behaviour is not of neutral or uninterested parties, but of partisan minds.
    THESE folks DO exactly that.
    They get right upset at feasts, Santa, good cheer, and charity. They attack the core traditions as unworthy or stupid.
    Why? Because they are ANTI-Theist not Atheist. Specifically they are ANTI-Daddy (material and spiritual) and that means ANTI-Christian.
    Check out the comments. They speak for volumes on this observation.
    So... what to do or say?
    I suggest we pray for them.
    Those of us that have the faith, pray in their names.
    Perhaps a prayer that they will experience so much love and joy over the holidays that their souls may once again flourish and their world expand to allow for more than mere appetites, fear, and lust?
    It could do no harm, and I see no way to speak sense to those who WILL NOT hear it. We cannot convince them with reason, it has abandoned them.
    It would be like explaining colours to a man who has NEVER seen. Better to pray that he can learn to trust those blessed with sight than to wish for his sight to magically return, although either miracle would be a welcome one.

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  10. @crusadeREX

    What a wonderful comment, thank you.

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  11. James R. TrollingtonNovember 27, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    They get right upset at feasts, Santa, good cheer, and charity. They attack the core traditions as unworthy or stupid.

    No (at least not in my case). Trolling idiots is just funny.

    We cannot convince them with reason, it has abandoned them.
    It would be like explaining colours to a man who has NEVER seen.


    Please look up "superiority complex".

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  12. @Pépé
    You're most welcome. I hope this Sabbath finds you well, and pray you have a very happy Holiday Season.
    Always a pleasure to read your comments, Pépé.
    *On a note of common interest, I just bought my wife an audio book copy of the 'Spiritual Brain' as a 'stocking stuffer'.

    @Troll
    "Please look up "superiority complex".
    Look it up? I live it. I am an officer.
    I am a superior and inferior to many. I am capable of giving, receiving, following and formulating orders.
    It is rather simple actually, once you get the hang of it. Priorities and such.
    Nothing too complex about it.
    Well, I guess maybe to a guy who lives under a bridge everything but mutton is complex.

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  13. BTW, Troll...
    When you request that I 'look up "superiority complex", you do realize you are suggesting, by inference, that the blind are inferior to people gifted with sight?
    You are judging them by their physical abilities. You get that, right?
    My comparison was one of disability and the charity of those who help the disabled adapt to live a full life, not one of dominant superiority and inferiority by way of physical prowess.
    But, I guess those are the same to you in your mono-dimensional material world? Seems you tripped over your Social-Darwinist views, Troll.

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  14. Translation: herpity derp, atiests are evil, jeebus jeebus jeebus akbar

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  15. Pepe,

    Go back and read the Book of Job again. Satan was actually performing the role of 'Devils Advocate' for God, reporting an unbiased opinion to God. God was praising Job for being a righteous and loyal subject, and Satan noted, why wouldn't he, since God had given him great wealth and happiness. Take them away, and Job would curse God. So with God's permission, Satan is allowed to kill Job's 10 children (the only humans in the bible Satan is on record killing), have all of Job's life stock stolen, inflict a hideous skin disease on Job, ... You get the picture.

    The nature of Satan has evolved from the OT to the NT as humans invented new stories. The two different accounts of the birth of Jesus are just stories. Fiction.

    Even if Matthew and Luke were written by the people they were supposed to be according to tradition, instead of Greek writers in lands outside Palestine after 60 CE, how would they know the story? Matthew, as a purported disciple, could have got the story from Mary's memory, but memory is unreliable after 33 years, and she wouldn't have known much of the 3 Magi, so that part of the story would have had to be considerably embellished. Luke, as a traveling companion of Paul, would not have had any contact with Mary.

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  16. @bach:

    You've been imbibing Higher Criticism, which is an effort to debunk the supernatural elements of the NT.

    The traditional authorship of the Gospels is well-attested. Early sources were unanimous, and the obscurity of Mark and Luke attests to the validity of their authorship. Why would anyone make up authorship by such obscure figures?

    Matthew's authorship is universally attested by ancient sources. The Two Gospel hypothesis is the most reasonable solution to the Synoptic Problem and it describes an early Hebrew version of Matthew. This is well described by 2nd century father Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of St. John.

    Luke was obviously acquainted with Mary or was acquainted with someone who knew Mary very well. That accounts for his Nativity history.

    I find it astonishing that anyone would take seriously biblical scholarship by people devoted to destroying Christianity, especially when the traditional authorships are so well attested by ancients who were in a position to know the truth. Irenaeus had direct access to Polycarp who know John the Apostle personally. I'll take his word on Gospel authorship.

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  17. The first time Jesus was ever mentioned was 60 years after he supposedly died. There is no independent record, in all of recorded history, of his baptism, of his alleged preaching’s, of his trail or death and much less of resurrection.

    Anything written is far from contemporaneous; most being written nearly a century after supposed events, and even then it is a passing reference discussing something else.

    Santa Claus, on the other hand, actually existed. I visited personally Saint Nicholas village in Turkey some years ago.

    With Jesus, we can’t be so sure.

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  18. It's hilarious how Christianity has subverted the true religion, Old Norse paganism.

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  19. @iko:

    Jesus' life is better attested than that of any other ancient person, in terms of number of documents and of proximity of composition of the documents to the individual's life. (http://carm.org/manuscript-evidence)

    The extent to which you guys will go to deny Christ is amazing. Why don't you just say that you don't believe, rather than make up asinine historical ("Jesus didn't exist"... yada... yada) arguments that are transparent nonsense.

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  20. Yes, but where is his birth certificate?

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  21. Michael,

    Now you are writing absolute b**lsh*t.

    'Jesus' life is better attested than that of any other ancient person ...?'

    Julius Caesar? Augustus? Alexander the Great? Josephus? The list goes on and on.

    'Gognitive dissonance' is a good way of describing your bizarre psychopathology. The 'Geschwind Syndrome' appears to be getting more probable.

    Mark and Luke weren't obscure characters. Mark knew both Paul and Peter, and was the secretary of both. He's supposed to have written down what Peter said, if he actually wrote the gospel. Luke was a physician traveling companion of Paul, so he would have belonged to the intelligentsia of the time. Luke the gospel was claimed to have been written by a historian recording the true history.

    Again, history is written by the winners. Stating that ancient sources universally attest to the 'truth' of the gospels, because the writings of the winning dogma are the only ones to have been copied and recopied over over the centuries to come down to us now.

    That there were other opinions at the time we only know from the fact that the ancient sources contain attacks on what is described as heresies. For all we know, there were other early Christian sects which regarded Mark, Matthew, Luke and John as heretical.

    I actually agree that Jesus was a historical figure. I just dispute that he was the Son of God and was resurrected. Also I dispute his miracles too. He was a good preacher though.

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  22. Michael,

    Actually, your reading skills are abysmal too. Iko didn't write that Jesus didn't exist. All he's saying is that Jesus wasn't documented during his lifetime. Agreed, that doesn't mean much. Almost everyone from the first century would not have been documented at the time, let alone have surviving documents coming down to us.

    But Jesus was supposed to have been a highly significant figure. And there is absolutely no Roman record of even his execution. And he's supposed to have been executed for sedition, threatening Roman control of a very important province securing control of Egypt, the granary of the Roman empire.

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  23. @bach:

    What case are you making?

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  24. According to the Bible, lots of zombies roamed Jerusalem after the alleged Jesus' alleged resurrection.

    Matthew 27: 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

    Remarkable, isn't it, that no contemporary documentation exists of this bizarre spectacle? Within a day, nearly all of Jerusalem's citizens must have heard about it, but no evidence remains. Of course, that's exactly what one would expect if it never happened.

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  25. RESPECT MAH AUTHORITYNovember 27, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    Jesus' life is better attested than that of any other ancient person, in terms of number of documents and of proximity of composition of the documents to the individual's life.

    Incorrect. Eric Cartman is better attested than your Jeebus.

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  26. Michael,

    What case am I making? I'm making the case that you're an ignorant fool, making erroneous statements out of wishful thinking, hoping that what you want to be true for your feelings of consolation, can be made to be true by illogical thinking.

    Is that clear enough for you? Subtlety doesn't seem to work with you.

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  27. Dr. Egnor,

    How dare you collect stamps in public? Can't you see that this only drives the non-stamp-collectors insane? Why can't you just leave them to practice their lack of your hobby in peace?

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  28. @Alt:

    Good point. My beliefs just drive these guys crazy.

    I wonder why they care so much? Why does an itinerant preacher from 2000 years ago agitate them so?

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  29. As always, you're mistaken. Christian faith does not drive us crazy. I actually like a lot of things about Christianity. It is our society's cultural heritage, whether one believes in God of the Bible or not. I like going to churches when I travel. Il Duomo in Milan is an architectural marvel. So is Cologne's Domkirche. And of course we learn a lot about ancient people (aside from their beliefs) from reading the Bible itself.

    What cracks us up is your astonishing potential for making a complete ass of yourself by pontificating on subjects about which you know next to nothing. No matter what the subject, you make silly assertions that are completely unjustified by anything except your twisted beliefs (and no, by that I do not mean Catholicism).

    That's what people around the web have learned to call Egnorance. You, Michael, are a living monument to it. For that we commend you. Keep up the good work. And best regards to Ann Barnhardt.

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  30. Michael,

    You're right. You do send me crazy with your writings. I laugh so much I'm unable to breathe. The last time I've laughed so much was Billy Connolly's 'Too Old to Die Young' tour or the chapter in Stephen King's 'Stand By Me' novella, the one with the pie-eating contest.

    I've said before, the reason why I read your blog is because I'm fascinated how intelligent people are able to write such blatant nonsense.

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  31. @bach:

    It's my pleasure to entertain you.

    BTW, I loved King's novella- "The Body". The book is better than the movie. I'm actually reading "Apt Pupil now-- from the same collection. Disturbing but fascinating.

    But I digress. I'd be interested to know which of my "twisted" beliefs most upset you, besides my Catholicism, which you say is not your bugbear.

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  32. Michael,

    You're right. The title of the novella was 'the Body'. I never saw the film. I think I have the DVD somewhere, still in the cellophane ...

    Your 'twisted' beliefs don't upset me. I have never used 'twisted' in relation to your beliefs. 'Bizarre' perhaps. What amuses me is that you come out with blatantly erroneous statements, such as your statement that Jesus is the best documented Ancient World individual, and then ignore two corrections. In a thousand year's time, by the same logic, Harry Potter would be regarded as the best documented indidual of the late twentieth/ early twenty first centuries. After all, there's numerous copies of a biography in 7 thick volumes detailing just part of his life.

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  33. Why do we post on here?

    It's simple. No, its not because we are 'mad at god' or other similar claptrap. Again, there goes that presumption thing again you guys like to do-as in, 'lets just assume god exists.'

    It's because:

    1) For centuries it's been the christians who have had first and final say on many things, even making it illegal in many cases to denounce anything biblical. You have talked down to us, cursed us, jailed us, killed us, in the name of your god. Yet you call US the smug superior types??

    2) We like the debate. So does Egnor. Why else would he keep the comments open to anyone?

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  34. Referring to these stolen e-mails as a leak is dishonest, and asking God to bless these criminals is downright scary. Dr. Egnor and his friends support thieves and liars, and their lies and advocacy of destructive policies will ultimately do more to harm Christianity than an army of New Atheists ever could. Unfortunately we will all suffer because of this Christian nonsense.

    -KW

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  35. Hi.
    Debate is good, especially if it leads to a better understanding of truth. I am curious, though, as to why discussions of such a nature as the above debate have a tendency to turn into personal insult fests? I don't mean to be impertinent by my asking, I would just like to know your thoughts on this; I seek to better understand the basis behind differing viewpoints.
    Please, if anyone replies, could you not be insulting?
    Many thanks.

    Though, for the second to last anonymous poster before me, I'm not sure how the actions of people centuries ago validate the way a person acts now. The British butchered and sold into slavery my Irish ancestors, and then confiscated their lands so any surviving heirs would be displaced; but it would seem that I would be remiss if I were to hate, dislike, or rail against the British today for acts they have had no part in. Is it not wrong to punish the son for the sins of the father?

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  36. Blue Henn

    My post did sound a bit like blaming the son for the sins of the father, but my point was, someone always asks why we go on these sites and debate. Well the long held traditions that i mentioned still happen to a degree. Obviously with many muslim countries, but even in the christian faith. Take a look at some countries in Africa and the extremism taking place. Uganda's parliament actually had a bill calling for hanging of any homosexuals. In the U.S., atheists are still looked down upon as untrustworthy characters.
    There are many friends and acquaintances that i dont ever speak about my atheism to them because i know i will be shunned. And i value being in their life.

    As far as the name-calling goes, i usually dont take that approach, but seeing that the author of this blog has this vitriol in his posts, and in many cases starts off with name-calling, well i cant let that go unanswered!

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  37. @mregnor:

    Thanks for the reminder that the event which the Christmas season celebrates is both remarkable (astounding, actually) and sacred.

    You seem to suggest that listening to "quiet music" can enhance our contemplation of the incarnation. I wholeheartedly agree. It's not a coincidence, in my opinion, that some of the most sublime music ever composed was inspired by the birth of Christ.

    Blessings on you and yours during this season marking the first advent of God's own dear Son...

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  38. Thank you very much, Anonymous, for replying. I really do appreciate it! It is a terrible shame that such atrocities are still taking place; though the biggest shame lies on those who profess to follow the teachings of those who preached peace and unity, yet fail to do so.

    :) Debates are fun, and one may learn much by them!

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  39. @bachfiend:

    You write:

    The gospels of Luke and Matthew are
    the only accounts of the birth of Jesus,
    and they contradict each other.


    No two claims you've extracted from Matthew and Luke rise to the level of a contradiction. Their respective accounts are, no doubt, told from differing points of view, and with varying emphases, but they do not disagree. I fail to see any obvious violations of the law of contradiction.

    [Luke records]...an empire wide census requiring Joseph and Mary to travel from Nazareth to their 'ancestral' home of Bethlehem (there's no record of an empire wide census around the time).

    Your assertion that there was no empire-wide census around the time of Christ's birth is inconsistent with the historical evidence. It was effectively demolished by archaeological discoveries in the second half of the nineteenth century. See, for example, Sir William Mitchell Ramsay's extensive discussion in Was Christ Born at Bethlehem? A Study on the Credibility of St. Luke (second edition; London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1898; online here). The stubborn persistence of this particular anti-Christian meme is remarkable, given that papyrii and inscriptional finds more than 100 years ago tend to strongly support Luke, and not his detractors. (Incidentally, in the many cases where archaelogy has been able to shed direct light on Luke's credibility as a historian, Luke has always been vindicated, and his critics humiliated.)

    Ramsay opines:

    The preservation of papyri is so accidental and precarious, that imperfection and lacunae [gaps] are the rule in every department which they touch upon. We must be grateful for the light they throw on any subject, but it would be absurd to reason, because no fragment of papyrus has been found to attest a fact, that therefore the fact did not occur. The argument a silentio, always a dangerous one, is especially dangerous where papyrus-fragments are concerned.

    (pages 134-135) This is advice, bachfiend, that you would do well to heed.

    You write:

    And the time of year is wrong. December 25 was chosen to supplant the pagan festival for the W[i]nter solstice. Shepherds wouldn't be out watching their flocks at night in Winter, even in Palestine.

    The traditional December 25 date, comes, of course, from Christian tradition, and not from the biblical record. So that date has no bearing whatsoever on the credibility of any of the gospel writers. But even if we take December 25 to be correct, there is no discrepancy with the biblical account. Jewish sources suggest that flocks whose sheep were destined for temple sacrifice were pastured year-round on grounds not far from Bethlehem, on the road to Jerusalem. See Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, volume I, pages 186-187 (8th edition; New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907; online here).

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  40. KentD,

    Then you are a failure. There's an obvious contradiction between Luke and Matthew. Luke has Joseph and Mary traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. Matthew has Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem ( so agreed, they could have gone there from Bethlehem for the census, if it occurred, which I still doubt).

    BUT ... The angels told Joseph and Mary, with Jesus, to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod's murder of the innocents. And when Herod died an angel told Joseph and Mary that they could return to Judea. But on the way they heard that Herod's son was ruling in Herod's name so they veered off to Gallilee, to Nazareth, and the context makes it clear that it wasn't their original destination or home.

    Luke and Matthew solve the problem of having a 'prophecy' that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem whereas Jesus was Nazareth in different ways. Luke has Jesus be a native Nazarene. Matthew has him becoming an adopted one.

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  41. @bachfiend:

    The subject of most of the actions that Matthew records in chapters one and two is Joseph. By contrast, disregarding the narrative about John's birth, and focusing on events some months prior to Jesus' birth, Luke concentrates on Mary (1:26-56). In chapter 2, describing days immediately before and following Jesus' birth, Luke includes Joseph, since the couple is together. And of course the Christ child Himself is a visible part of the story now. But still we get the sense that Mary is a special focus of attention. Chapter two verse 19 is especially interesting: "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Where would Luke get this information, if not from Mary herself?

    My point is that there is nothing inherently contradictory, or even unexpected, in the differences between Matthew’s account and Luke’s. The accounts quite obviously focus on different people (Joseph and Mary), and effectively tell the same intertwining story from their respective points of view. (Even if the narratives did focus on the same individual, which they don't, there would be no inherent contradiction--although perhaps differences would be more unexpected--unless some unambiguous contradiction could be found.)

    You have yet to point out an unambiguous contradiction between Matthew and Luke. By your own admission, Joseph and Mary "could have gone [from Nazareth to Bethlehem] for the census". Your skepticism regarding the census rests on a very tenuous argument from silence. What extra-biblical evidence we do have tends strongly to support Luke, and not his critics. You are artificially manufacturing a contradiction based upon an argument from silence. History and probability (given Luke's proven trustworthiness) are not on your side.

    You write:

    But on the way [back from Egypt to Judea] they heard that Herod's son was ruling in Herod's name so they veered off to Galilee, to Nazareth, and the context makes it clear that it wasn't their original destination or home.


    The context says no such thing, either explicitly or implicitly. Up to this point, Matthew has made no reference whatsoever to Nazareth, or to any locales associated with Joseph or Mary. Once again, you are artificially manufacturing a contradiction based upon an argument from silence. You are arbitrarily (and unjustifiably) construing Matthew and Luke is such a way that contradiction becomes inevitable.

    A de facto canon of interpretation guides historians and archaeologists as they consider ancient documents. One of the rules of that canon is that the author or authors of a document get the benefit of the doubt, unless conclusive evidence justifies skepticism. I'm still waiting for you to produce your conclusive evidence. Matthew and Luke can be harmonized without any logical shortcuts or sleight-of-hand. Why won't you give them the benefit of the doubt?

    BTW, regarding your handle, “bachfiend”: Is there a story behind it (e.g. a personal passion for the music of JS Bach)? Just curious...

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  42. @bachfiend:

    A clarification -- I wrote:

    Up to this point, Matthew has made no reference whatsoever to Nazareth, or to any locales associated with Joseph or Mary.

    I should have qualified that statement to read:

    Up to this point, Matthew has made no reference whatsoever to Nazareth, or to any locales associated with Joseph or Mary prior to the Christ child's birth in Bethlehem.

    Sorry for the confusion.

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  43. KenD,

    Well, we can go around in circles arguing whether Christianity is true depending on the plausibility of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem in Matthew and Luke. I don't think they're plausible.

    However, I'm not a Christian, because the entire story is implausible.

    God is supposed to have created the Universe, with its 100 billion galaxies each containing around 100 billion stars that we can see 13.7 billion years ago. And then after at least 2 generations of stars went supernova seeding galactic gas clouds with heavier elements, 4.6 billion years ago, the Sun and solar system formed. Then 3.8 billion years ago, God created life on Earth, and after hundreds of millions of years of false starts and mass extinctions, 100,000 years ago God created humans, with a soul unique to humans, and then 2,000 years ago God decided to intervene yet again by sacrificing part of himself to himself to atone for all past, present and future human sins, just as long as humans accept Jesus as savior.

    It's the entire story I reject.

    I chose my moniker of 'bachfiend' because there is hardly a piece of Bach's music I don't like. Even the 'St Matthew Passion'. I'm like Richard Dawkins, my favorite part of that is the one starting 'ich will Jesu begraben'.

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  44. Bachfiend,

    Excellent summation. You forgot the whole vicarious redemption thing, or scapegoating. Blood sacrifice?? Really? Don't you think if this story was real, if god was real, he'd say enough of this ambiguous crap, humans are humans, no matter what i do, who i 'sacrifice,' they're going to do things that i dont like, and i should simply appear to EVERYONE, on a regular basis?

    Seems to me it would clear up a WHOLE lot, scare the shit out of many people, confirm to others what they already believe, and maybe, just maybe, people would start behaving better? Think of the wars that didnt need to happen, the arguing, the animosity, etc. etc. etc.

    But, nope. We just have to 'take it on faith'. Have this COMPULSORY love for jesus, and then and only then will we be 'rewarded' with something that nobody can REALLY assure - living forever(yikes) after we die. What a perfect scam that clergy have going - you better repent and dammit, love jesus, or you'll go to hell. But if you come to church and give us money, then yep, we have a place in heaven riiiight here waiting for you. TRUST US.

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  45. @bachfiend:

    Well, at least we can agree that much of Bach's music is great. I don't recall ever listening to the St. Matthew Passion in its entirety (at least in one sitting). Guess I better put that on my bucket list. One of my all-time favorites is Bach's "Little" Fugue in G minor, especially as performed by a superb brass ensemble like the Summit Brass.

    You wrote:

    I'm like Richard Dawkins, my favorite part of [the St. Matthew Passion] is the one starting 'ich will Jesu begraben'.

    You're referring, I assume, to a phrase in the bass aria Mache dich, mein Herze, rein. And of course your intended meaning is the polar opposite of Bach's:

    Mache dich, mein Herze, rein,
    Ich will Jesum selbst begraben.
    Denn er soll nunmehr in mir
    Für und für
    Seine süße Ruhe haben.
    Welt, geh aus, laß Jesum ein!


    Make thyself clean, my heart,
    I will myself entomb Jesus.
    For he shall henceforth in me
    For ever and ever
    Take his sweet rest.
    World, begone, let Jesus in!

    If you plan to bury Jesus, in the sense you intend, I suggest you follow Pilate's command, from the recitative--Evangelist and Pilate:

    ...gehet hin und verwahret’s, wie ihr’s wisset!

    "Go ye forth and secure Him as best ye can!" In the long run, I do not predict that you will be successful.

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  46. @bachfiend:

    You wrote, "...the entire story is implausible. ...it's the entire story I reject."

    Just out of curiosity, what story is plausible to you? What story do you accept?

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  47. KenD,

    Yes you're right about the part in the St Matthews Passion. I haven't listened to it for years, I only ever listen to the recording, never read the libretto, so the words I am recovering from memory (and memory is unreliable). I like Bach for the music, not the words. And I reject Christianity for the entire cosmology, not because of the little story of the birth, life and death of Jesus.

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  48. @Mulder:

    You wrote:

    Don't you think if this story was real, if god was real, he'd say enough of this ambiguous crap, humans are humans, no matter what i do, who i 'sacrifice,' they're going to do things that i dont like, and i should simply appear to EVERYONE, on a regular basis?

    On the assumption that the God of the Bible is real, it seems to me that His actions in history (i.e. His behaviors toward and within the universe He created) would depend upon His ultimate goals for the universe, and upon His chosen means for achieving those goals.

    You expect from God that He reveal Himself unambiguously to every person now, rather than later? Wouldn't such a revelation compel belief more so than the limited ("ambiguous") revelation we have to date? In any case, you should be careful what you wish for.

    On at least one point I agree with you. If life consists solely of our earthly existence, then--Yikes! But don't confuse your conception of eternal life with what's promised to God's people. His plan is not an interminable extension of our present miserable state. No, He promises much more than that. He also promises much more that our present state sans pain and suffering.

    I mean no disrespect, but your view of Christianity is naive and foolish. It's as if you've been watering at the trough of some morally shabby televangelist. Have you ever read the Bible for yourself?

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  49. @bachfiend:

    Sorry, I probably wasn't clear. I wasn't asking you what story about Christinanity that you accept. I understand you "reject the entire [Christian] cosmology". I'm asking what non-Christian cosmology (ultimate story) you do accept.

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  50. KentD,

    The cosmology I accept is that the Universe doesn't have a creator who made the entire Universe with the benefit of a single species (humans) on a tiny speck of matter in a vast expanse of time and space in mind.

    The Universe appears purposeless without ultimate aims.

    Humans however can create purpose on Earth. Thinking that atheists are living purposeless lives is just an arrogant assertion by theists. Atheists are just as capable as getting out of bed to do the day's work as theists.

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  51. "I mean no disrespect, but your view of Christianity is naive and foolish. It's as if you've been watering at the trough of some morally shabby televangelist. Have you ever read the Bible for yourself?"

    Oh, there is MUCH disrespect in that sentence, my friend.
    And yes, to answer your question, i have. I used to be Catholic.
    Your reply leaves a lot to be desired. It completely presupposes this fairytale afterlife in which i had said in my earlier post that such a thing is impossible to promise, and to believe.

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