Monday, December 17, 2012


"If you read Hawking on the 'event horizon,' that theoretical lip of the 'black hole' over which one could in theory plunge and see the past and the future (except that one would, regrettably and by definition, not have enough 'time'), I shall be surprised if you can still go on gaping at Moses and his unimpressive 'burning bush.'"
--Christopher Hitchens, author "god Is Not Great"

Some people have criticized certain authors of books attacking religion as being unscholarly in their research. By this they usually mean these authors should only present information, rather than taking a side on a controversial issue. This is the case in William J. Hamblin's review of "god Is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens.

Hamblin claims that Hitchens's "dogmatic assertions" are due to a lack of looking at what the other side has to say about things like the historicity of the account of the Exodus of Moses: "These narratives can be "easily discarded" by Hitchens only because he has failed to do even a superficial survey of the evidence in favor of the historicity of the biblical traditions." Notice that he doesn't refute what Hitchens claimed, he only says that there is another side to the discussion. But does the fact that Hitchens has an opinion, even a strong one, indicate that he is unaware of the opposition? Does the existence of an opposing view mean that it is the least bit credible or noteworthy?

The fact is, Hitchens and other atheist authors are not usually Biblical scholars, and as such they rely on the credibility of people who know what they are talking about, in much the same way that I rely on experts of Evolution. But this does not mean that Hitchens or I do not do our own research to form an educated opinion on these subjects, or that our opinions are of no merit. We may not be experts, but have read what the experts have said, and we have made decisions based on the information they provide.

The funny thing about Hamblin's rebuttal is that even if he was completely correct and Hitchens was completely wrong about the historical events in the Bible, it still offers absolutely zero credibility to the supernatural claims. Even if there really was a Moses who freed the Israelites from captivity, it says nothing about parting the Red Sea, or god delivering Manna from heaven.

Likewise, even if Jesus really did exist, this wouldn't mean that he performed miracles. We could take this even further, and say that even if Jesus really did perform miracles, like healing the sick and raising the dead, to say that such things could only be done by the Son of God and that this is proof of his divinity is still an argument from ignorance, since you haven't shown how he did these things.

So, what do actual experts have to say about Biblical and religious claims? Here is a seminar by Dr Richard Carrier discussing some of the things I mentioned above, and he basically puts Christians to shame:


Here is Hitchens talking about his book, the historicity of Jesus vs Socrates, and proving religion through miracles:

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