Why Do the Gospels Contain Unnecessary Details?

The Four Gospels are full of pointless minutia. Have you noticed this? For instance, John tells us there were six waterpots at the wedding in Cana that could hold 20-30 gallons of water each. Well, that’s oddly specific. It serves no obvious theological meaning or literary purpose. Why are statements like these there?  Scholar Lydia McGrew calls these “unnecessary details.” She writes: “An unnecessary detail appears to be there for no special reason; it is just there because the author believed it was true. It lends verisimilitude to the account precisely by being so pointless, and in some cases (though not always) vivid. Such details are thus plausible marks of eyewitness testimony — either from … Read more

Video: Hume’s Stubborn Incredulity Over Miracles (with Dr. Tim McGrew)

David Hume is celebrated for defeating the argument against miracles. But did he? Actually, if his argument is taken to its logical conclusion, it would be a science-stopper. For instance, did you know that scientists, using reasoning like Hume’s, once denied the existence of meteorites? Dr. Tim McGrew demolishes David Hume’s argument against miracles. This is an excerpt of a talk made at New Orleans Baptist Seminary.

Video: Unexplained Allusions – A Sneaky Good Why Reason the Gospels Aren’t Myths

Have you ever noticed that people often mention trivial details when describing events they were involved in? You know, stuff not totally related to the story?  The Gospel writers do that, too. Some comments are left dangling without any explanation. These remarks don’t seem to advance the story or serve any sort of theological or literary purpose. Scholar Lydia McGrew calls these unexplained allusions. Verses like these usually fly under the radar. But when we pay attention to them, we find they have the ring of truth. Fiction writers would have no reason to include unexplained, puzzling details and would have every reason to leave them out. In this video, I look at several examples.

Video: Did the Feeding of the 5000 Really Happen?

According to the Gospels, Jesus fed the 5000 with fives loaves, and two fish. But is this a legend, or a historically reliable account? I believe it is historical, largely due to the evidence of undesigned coincidences. Philosopher Lydia McGrew defines undesigned coincidences as “a notable connection between two or more accounts or texts that doesn’t seem to have been planned by the person or people giving the accounts. Despite their apparent independence, the items fit together like pieces of a puzzle.” These are hard to fake and even more unlikely to come about by pure chance in fictional or manipulated stories. Fictions and forgeries don’t normally converge. Or when they do, it’s in an … Read more

Playlist: How Christianity (Probably DIdn’t) Begin | Response to Paulogia

Paulogia is an absolute machine when it comes to responding to arguments for the historicity of the resurrection. Many have asked me to respond to his arguments. In a short video, Paulogia explains how Christianity began without the resurrection, so I figured that was a good starting point. I realize that he has a whole lot more to say on this topic, but I think this is a pretty good summary of his hypothesis. In this three-part series, I examine Paul’s epistemology regarding miracles, as well as his psycho-historical speculations of the apostles.

Video: A Religiously Neutral Method for Judging Miracles

Miracles seem to be a special pleading problem for Christians. The Bible claims many miracles that we often take for granted. But we turn into Richard Dawkins when other religions claim miracles. David Hume made the same complaint in his “Of Miracles” essay. What if I said Christians can meet this challenge? Enter John Douglas. Douglas was an Anglican bishop who responded to Hume’s essay. In response, Douglas offered religiously neutral criteria to filter out unverifiable miracle claims. So what were the criteria? Douglas said we can rationally doubt a miracle when… It is first reported long after the alleged miracle occurred. It is first reported far away from where the alleged miracle happened. If … Read more

The Gospels Are Embarrassing for the Apostles

If you want people to trust their leaders, you usually would try to paint them in the best light possible. You don’t go out of your way to undermine their authority. But that isn’t what we see at all in the Gospels. Those who would eventually lead the church often look impulsive, incompetent, boastful, and stupid. If the Gospels are supposed to be PR for the apostles, their propaganda team was a dismal failure.  This kind of information is what NT scholars call the criteria of embarrassment. In his book, Marginal Jew, Meier writes: The point of the criterion is that the early church would hardly have gone out of its way to create material … Read more

Did the Disciples Die as Martyrs? | Paulogia Response

Some have said that liars make poor martyrs. The apostles’ willingness to suffer and die for their belief in Jesus’ resurrection shows they were sincere. And unlike jihadi terrorists who die for their beliefs, the disciples died saying they were eyewitnesses to the resurrection.  But have Christian apologists overstated their case? Popular atheist YouTuber Paulogia says that they have. Big time. Here I go over the case for the apostles being willing to suffer and die for their claims, and examine Paulogia’s skepticism.

Is Jesus Alive?