Does Mark make a historical blunder regarding the ritual of Jewish handwashing?

Critics love to say the gospels aren’t trustworthy because they’re full of historical blunders. One such alleged error that often gets brought up is that Mark goofs regarding ritual purification, namely the Jewish custom of handwashing. Here’s biblical critic Bart Ehrman: “Their ignorance of Palestinian geography and Jewish customs suggests they composed their works somewhere else in the empire…Mark 7:3 indicates that the Pharisees ‘and all the Jews’ washed their hands before eating, so as to observe ‘the tradition of the elders.’ This is not true: most Jews did not engage in this ritual.” Jesus, Interrupted p 287 Bart has a point. If you read the Mosaic law, this was to be practiced by the … Read more

No, the Argument From Miracles Has Not Been Debunked – a Reply to Rationality Rules (Pt. 1)

Is the argument from miracles full of fallacies? Popular atheist YouTuber ‘Rationality Rules’ argues that’s the case. Rather than examining miracles on a report-by-report basis, he opts to say that the case for miracles is doomed from the start. This reasoning follows the tradition of the famous 18th-century philosopher David Hume. For those of you who aren’t into YouTube, Rationality Rules has had his channel since March of 2017. In that short time, he’s gained over 200k subscribers and has had nearly 15 million views. There’s a cottage industry of channels similar to his and we shouldn’t underestimate their influence. These are sharp skeptics making entertaining and digestible videos packed with thought-provoking content. As believers, … Read more

Did Paul believe in a heavenly, visionary Jesus or an embodied, resurrected Jesus?

Every serious historian who studies Christian origins agrees that Paul is our earliest source for the resurrection of Jesus. Even atheistic scholars like Gerd Ludemann admit that the creed Paul quotes in 1 Corinthians 15 is dated within a short time after Jesus’ crucifixion, possibly even within the first year. Here’s the rub: Many critics claim that since Paul is our earliest source, and his experience of Jesus was a visionary experience, that was likely the other apostles’ experience too. The gospels later embellished the story because Paul taught that Jesus rose spiritually, not bodily. Modern-day Christians don’t accept the visionary stories of Joseph Smith or Muhammed. So why believe the Christian story when it’s … Read more

Can religious experiences be reduced to brain activity? What about religious experiences in other religions? A reply to Genetically Modified Skeptic

Here’s my unpopular opinion: I actually like the argument from religious experience. As part of a cumulative case for God’s existence, I think it works. Spiritual experience is one of those things that should make people curious, at minimum. However, not everyone is a fan. This includes a lot of Christians, who find it too problematic. There are two common objections that critics raise against this argument that I want to dig into in this post. To help me state these objections, I’m going to refer to a video made by prolific atheist YouTuber Drew McCoy, AKA Genetically Modified Skeptic. In less than 2 years, Drew’s channel has gained over 173K subscribers and over 13 … Read more

84 reasons why we know Luke was a traveling companion and eyewitness of the miraculous life of the Apostle Paul

Bart Ehrman claims that Luke wasn’t really a traveling companion of Paul. In his book Forged, Bart writes: “(The author of Acts) is simply claiming to be a traveling companion of Paul’s and therefore unusually well suited to give a “true” account of Paul’s message and mission. But he almost certainly was not a companion of Paul’s. On the one hand, he was writing long after Paul and his companions were dead. Scholars usually date Acts to around 85 CE or so, over two decades after Paul’s death. On the other hand, he seems to be far too poorly informed about Paul’s theology and missionary activities to have been someone with firsthand knowledge.”  (Forged: Writing in … Read more

A hopeless Bible contradiction? Why do Matthew and Luke give us two different genealogies for Jesus?

Early in their respective Gospels, Matthew and Luke both present to us Jesus’ genealogy. But there’s a rather glaring problem between the two records. They are irreconcilably different. Popular skeptical blogger Bob Seidensticker calls this one of the most damning Bible contradictions, a discrepancy that strikes at the foundation of Christian claims. To help me state the objection in more detail, I’ll let Bob do the talking: “The Messiah had to be of the line of David (Jeremiah 33:15–17; Isaiah 9:7), so two gospels provide genealogies of Jesus to validate this requirement. The problem is that we only need to go back one generation, to Joseph’s father, to find a problem. Jacob [was] the father … Read more

How many signs did Jesus perform in Galilee? How Bart Ehrman turns passages into contradictions by taking verses out of context

Bart Ehrman says that the gospels are “hopelessly contradictory” and therefore we can’t trust them. But should we really have blind faith in Bart? I’m going to provide you with a sampling of why we shouldn’t. Some of Bart’s tactics are just downright snake-oily. (Is snake-oily a word?) Check out these shenanigans: DOES JOHN NOT KNOW HOW TO COUNT? “There are lots of other discrepancies in the New Testament, some of them far more difficult to reconcile (virtually impossible, I would say) than these simple examples. Not only are there discrepancies among different books of the Bible, but there are also inconsistencies within some of the books, a problem that historical critics have long ascribed … Read more

If Jesus really was a miracle-working teacher who rose from the dead, why isn’t He mentioned by more 1st century historians?

Jesus of Nazareth was a highly influential teacher. He allegedly was a prophet with miraculous powers. He cast out demons, healed the sick, and even raised people from the dead. Then there’s the whole matter of his own resurrection. If Jesus was such a big deal, why isn’t he mentioned in the first and early second century beyond a few Christian sources? Wouldn’t Jesus have made more of an impact in his times? This is a common complaint of skeptics, especially from the internet infidel crowd who question whether Jesus ever even existed. On the face of it, these questions appear reasonable, but history just doesn’t work this way. THE ARGUMENT FROM SILENCE IS STILL … Read more

6 strong reasons why Isaiah 53 describes Jesus alone

Here’s a spiritual conversation starter for you. Print off Isaiah 53 on a piece of paper. Take out the headings and verse numbers. Then grab a non-Christian friend and have them read it with you. 99 times out of a hundred, they’ll identify the Suffering Servant described in the passage as Jesus. That would be a great time to let them know that the chapter comes is out of the Jewish Bible and was written 700 years before the time of Christ!   The Bible says that one of the things that separate Yahweh from the nation’s idols is his ability to tell us the end from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:10) But not everyone is … Read more

Skeptics say that arguments for the existence of God prove very little. Are they right? Do arguments for the existence of God fail because they don’t give us a full picture of God?

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever had this experience: You’ve learned a thing or two about the cosmological argument or the design argument. You share it with someone who doesn’t believe in God, and they accept all the premises. But they aren’t moved. They’ll reply with something like:“Even if these arguments work, they don’t prove enough. They show there was a first cause of the universe, or a designer, but that is a far cry from the God of traditional theism.” Or they might say “well, that doesn’t prove that the first cause or designer was Jesus or Yahweh. Try harder.” How do you respond to that? This reply is at least as old as the famous Scottish … Read more