Monday, March 26, 2007

The Second Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard

By now you've certainly heard that this archaeologist guy, Simcha Jacobovici, found the bones of Jesus, his wife Mary, and his son Judah. And he has DNA proof.

This is the second stupidest thing I've ever heard.

There is no end to articles explaining what's wrong with his conclusion, things like Joseph, Jesus, Mary, and Judah were very common names at the time, why would Matthew have been buried with Jesus' family?, why would Jesus' family have been buried in Jerusalem when that was pretty far from their home in Nazareth?, Why wasn't Jesus brother, James, buried with them?, and several other problems with his conclusion.

But they have all seemed to forgotten one big huge problem with this Simcha's conclusion.

For some reason non Christians tend to think of Jesus as a good moral teacher. But Jesus' teachings are not the main point of Christianity. Christianity is built on this succession: Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. If one of those is missing, the story falls apart. Without the death the price for our sins has not been payed, which means we're not free from them, we still have to pay. With the death, but without the resurrection we have no way of knowing that Jesus' death made adequate atonement. ie: we wouldn't know if we were free from our sins or not. It would also have meant that death defeated him, as it defeats us. It is very important to Christianity that Jesus didn't stay dead. With the death, resurrection, but not the ascension then Jesus would have grown old and, presumably, died an old man. (Okay, it's true we don't know what would have happened had Jesus' not ascended. It's sort of implied in the Bible that if Jesus didn't ascend, then we wouldn't have received the Holy Spirit.)

So now Simcha Jacobovici says he has the bones of Jesus. This would be possible in one of the following two scenarios: 1) Jesus died on the cross, and never rose from the dead; 2) Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, lived for a while, hung around, did stuff, then died later on and was buried in Jerusalem.

We will now look at the flaws of each of these scenarios.

Concerning scenario #1:
After Jesus was arrested by the Romans and the Jews his disciples got scared. And rightly so. They figured that the Romans and Jews would come after them next. Now, they might get ignored if they laid low for a while and didn't bother anyone about Jesus for a while.

But then something happened. They came out of hiding, and decided to not lay low under the radar. They went around proclaiming the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. They did this fearlessly. Most of them died for this. Some were crucified. Some were burned at the steak. Some were sawed in two. Some were stoned to death. (With big stones, not with joints.) They had to really believe what they were proclaiming. Even if they thought Jesus was never raised from the dead, but they didn't want him to die in vein, and they wanted to spread a lie, some may have died for it, but surely not all. Surely there would have been a number admitting to the truth rather than dying for a lie.

People will die for what they think is right, but few will die for what they know is wrong.

Furthermore, if Jesus was dead, and the disciples were spreading the word that he had risen, the Jews and Romans could have easily refuted them by showing everyone the corpse. (BTW: The tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers who's lives would have depended on their successful guarding of the tomb.) But they knew that the tomb was empty.

The whole of the Acts of the Apostles couldn't have happened. Even if you don't believe in the miracles of the Acts, or pentecost or anything, you can't deny how Christianity took off, becoming a thorn in the Roman's side, and eventually taking over the Roman Empire to become it's official religion.

Concerning scenario #2:
Some say all these bones mean is that Jesus didn't physically ascend into Heaven, He only "Spiritually ascended". But if Jesus didn't physically ascend, and instead was just living down the street with his wife Mary, and son Judah, in Jerusalem, then again the early Christians wouldn't have had a leg to stand on. Part of Christianity is the hope of Christ returning. How could he return if he hadn't left?!

Furthermore, if Jesus was raised from the dead, and continued going around saying what he was saying then the Jews would have gone after him again, or turned and believed in him. We know they did neither. If, on the other hand, Jesus was raised from the dead but stopped doing what he had been doing and saying what he had been saying than 2 things: 1) the movement would have fizzled out. Who would go to their death for a movement who's leader and instigator was no longer interested? If Jesus was no longer claiming to be the Messiah, then why would his disciples go on proclaiming that He was, and that He was coming back? and 2) that would have been the only time in history when the death penalty would have been shown to be a crime deterrent.

Whether or not you believe in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, you can't deny that his early followers believed in those things whole heartedly, and acted accordingly. They willingly went to their imprisonment, torture, and death for that belief.

And that's why that's the second stupidest thing I've ever heard.


hollymeister said...

You've never heard of people believing something that isn't true and dying for it?! Your conclusions are based on the stories written in a book that has been edited and changed many times over the years. You can't discount the physical evidence solely based on the suggestion of a written record that you know has been changed. You can't know that there is no way things could have happened if Jesus' body had died and he had only spiritually risen to heaven. You also don't know that he wasn't married and with children before he was crucified and that fact had been conveniently either left out or edited out of the current versions of the bible. Basically your discounting the evidence as preposterous needs to have more of an argument other than "the bible says so."

Andrew said...

True, my refutation was trimmed down from a full fledged answer in an effort to keep the size of the post smaller. (Some people seem thing think my blog posts are rather long.) For example, I didn't answer any of the theories that say that Jesus didn't actually die, or that the disciples were hallucinating or anything. Nor did I get into any of the evidences for the inerrancy, or trustworthiness of The Bible.

But part of my premise is that you don't have to take the Bible as inerrant. See, one thing we know about Christianity is that it grew and grew under the Roman Empire (and under it's persecution of Christianity), and eventually became it's official religion. We don't need the Bible to know that.

You said "You've never heard of people believing something that isn't true and dying for it?!"

That's the opposite to what I said. People do die for things they believe are true. The actual
truthfulness is irrelevant to one's willing to die for a thing, just the person's belief that it's true.

In case I wasn't clear enough the first time:

People will die for what they believe to be true, but few will die for what they know to be wrong.

My discounting of the evidence hardly relies on "the Bible says so", but relies on "what we know from history, leading up to our present situation."

cnaphan said...

It's a bit like how most parents tell their children that Santa Claus brings them their Christmas presents. No sane parent actually believes it. And no parent would ever die for their "belief" in Santa Claus, because they know it's not true. Like Andrew said, it's the opposite of dying for your belief. It would be dying for something that you're specially inclined to know is untrue.

Anyways, the Bible and Tradition are our primary rules of faith, whereas physical evidence (the True Cross, the Holy Sepulchre, etc...) and reason are only secondary. The secondary is regulated by the primary. Thus, the Bible saying otherwise is sufficient grounds to dismiss physical evidence.

hollymeister said...

What you know from history is a written record of what people believed. Just because someone believes something does not make it true. The bible isn't even a true record of what people believed because it was written well after the fact and has been blatantly edited since then. Your argument now seems to be that just because history doesn't tell you that Jesus was married that it never happened and proof of anything different should be discounted because it doesn't match up with what your edited version of a written record tells you. Your friend and supporter there shows the main flaw in your reasoning, why should one hold such a written record, one which was selectively collected and has been numerous times edited and changed, one which also has many different, yes different, accounts of what MAY have happened above all physical evidence supporting or contradicting what is contained within. The main thing you learn when studying history is that you take ALL the evidence and ALL of the written records and the truth will be somewhere in between them ALL.