Unreliability of the Christian Bible
The Gospel of Matthew 2:13-18 tells the account of Herod's slaughter of the innocents in an attempt to hopefully kill the child Jesus in the slaughter. There is, however, not one contemperaneous account of this event outside the Bible, not one from the time when it happened, Josephus decades later made no mention of it, though Antiquities of the Jews mentioned Jesus, now recognized to be a spurious interpolation added long after Antiquities was written. Seutonius didn't make mention of it, neither did Tacitus.
Why might this be ? Why is this account found in the Bible alone, and no one else makes mention of it ? Could it likely be that the slaughter of the innocents simply never happened, that some unknown redactor interposed that into the story of Jesus decades after Matthew was originally composed. Maybe even as much as three to four centuries after Matthew was penned.
Archaeologists digging in the Sinai Peninsula have dug deep enough to find hunter gatherer tools and weapons, but have been unable to find any trace of any Hebrew encampments in the Biblical desert wilderness, they have found no traces wherever they have looked in Sinai. Jericho was not an inhabited city when Israel would have come to it. It was destroyed hundreds of years earlier. Archaeologists find no evidence that the Hebrew kingdoms of David and Solomon ever existed.
There are no traces of a Hebrew presence in Egypt. And if you look for evidence of Noah's global deluge in the earth's strata you won't find it. The geolgic column is properly ordered and not jumbled and mixed as they would be if there had been a catastrophic global flood. The geologic column is a geologic record of the progression of life from simple to complex. The Christian Bible is just not reliable.
I am aware of all that you said, but be it noted that many Bible critics also point out the fact that the gospels are literary devices, as shown by the fact that the slaughter of the innocents did not occur at the time between Jesus was born and the time he reached 2 years of age.
Yes, that's what I just explained: the event did not occur, it's a literary device.
But what does this say about the message of the gospel ? And what does it say about the historicity of Jesus the man or his alleged divinity ? What good is a literary device in establishing the validity of Jewish and Gentile Christianity and it's message ?
Beats me. What does that have to do with anything I said? All I explained was why gMatt has this passage and why it mirrors Exodus in the way that it does. It's clearly not actual history, and one can argue that it was never really meant to be seen this way.
I'm not sure what conclusions about Jesus' historicity or the validity of Christian doctrine you were expecting.
The point I'm trying to make is that whether every atheist (or even every liberal Christian) in the world knows that these tales are used as literary devices is irrelevant. A large percentage of people the world over take the Bible literally, they take it at face value.
Many times I've heard preachers say, "God says what he means and means what he says". These people take the Bible from cover to cover to be the literal and infallible word of God, and they don't recognize the use of literary devices in the Bible. And a good number of these people are potentially dangerous.
Okay. Well in my opinion trying to use inaccuracies in the Bible as a means of challenging literalism, doesn't really work. It certainly hasn't worked in my experience. I prefer to challenge the underlying assumptions of literalism right off the bat: trying to nitpick events and point out the lack of evidence for them, always gives them too much wiggle-room.
Actually, in trying to reason with believers I've found that pointing out the moral atrocities commanded, condoned, or caused by God in the Bible does little good either. Most of the believers I've encountered believe that whatever God commands or does is moral by virtue of his being perfect, holy, and sovereign. Nothing I know sways such believers, not pointing out the flaws of the Bible, nor pointing out the flaws of it's God. But whenever I get the opportunity I have to try.
We can't just give up and go on our merry way because of the apparent futility of it. There's too much at stake.
All believers need the crutches of religion and god for their existence. They are unable to fill the vacuum unbelief will cause in their minds. They are mentally weak. They know the flaws in their belief and so are desperate to defend their faith. Therefore its' futile to argue with them. You can wake up a sleeping man but not a man pretending to sleep.
"We can't just give up and go on our merry way because of the apparent futility of it. There's too much at stake."
This this kind of thought is the laudable strength of atheists like you. No doubt we cant give up. This kind of thought keeps our hopes alive. We will win ultimately because we are strong.
As always your knowledge and wisdom impresses me.
"All believers need the crutches of religion and god for their existence. They are unable to fill the vacuum unbelief will cause in their minds. They are mentally weak. They know the flaws in their belief and so are desperate to defend their faith. Therefore its' futile to argue with them. You can wake up a sleeping man but not a man pretending to sleep."
What you say very much reminds me of a saying by Mark Twain:
"Faith is believing what you know ain't true".
I am thrilled that we have biblical scholars and historians at this site. Your writings are absolutely first rate and must reading. Thank you for them!
I won't for a moment pretend to be either a professional scholar or a historian, I'm just a history enthusiast who enjoys the subject and likes to share some of the more interesting stuff the actual scholars are figuring out :) Glad you enjoyed it though, and thanks for the compliments!
(Assuming you replied to me, the formatting was ambiguous)
Like Madhukar, I was an atheist before I ever heard of Richard Dawkins or any of the other men called the new atheists. I like their works, but I don't base my atheism on them. I think any atheist would (perhaps should) be outraged at all the atrocities committed in the name of some god. Atrocities that have occurred for millennia and still occur today at breakneck pace.
It is a simple matter for them to dismiss what you say about Herod's slaughter as a simple matter of the sites not having been discovered yet. They could even point out that scientists have not given up the search and that there are quite a few (albeit Christian ones) that are still searching. For your problem with the flood they have many different answers depending on how your question is phrased. I think the one given in this circumstance is to compare it to a muddy pond. If you stir the mud around the debris will swirl everywhere, but eventually it will settle and become ordered again, pouring water would have the same effect as well.
Obviously the flood argument is true only in small scale situations as the gravity, pressure, internal heat, and sheer size of the Earth ensures that water cannot function that way. And anyway where did all the water go? However, I think it will be of more use finding controversies and contridictions with their books and faith. Such things cannot be explained away through failures or inaccuracies, however imagined, in science and they are instead to argue about the issue head on.
I am not saying I disagree with you, there are many more situations like this as well, such as the fact that the pharoh of egypt in the old testament did not rule at the time stated. And that there is no records of slave rebellions either during that time period or during the rule of the specified pharoh. But this too can be explained away by stating that the egyptians hid the information in shame, or that archeologists have not discovered it yet.
Pointing out the section of the bible where god says that he hardens the pharohs heart so that he would not do what god told him to do, for the sole purpose of increasing gods own glory would be far more efficient and I have not met a Christian yet who has explained it away (this passage translates in many different ways, as is true for the rest of the bible but I am reffering to Exodus 14:4, the current translation has removed the reference to glory and instead states simply that he is showing himself to be the lord).
I'm embarrassed to say I once categorically rejected the simple truths presented in this post.