Just a week ago I commented on the lack of archaeological evidence for Bethlehem at the time of Jesus – it was known only from about the fourth century on. I said:
“Archaeologists have found little that could identify the town of Bethlehem in the first century, leading a few to argue that it didn’t exist at that time. …. I don’t think this question has been resolved yet”
Sometimes a week is a long time in archaeology!
Almost exactly a year ago, I posted on the meaning of the word “gospel” (Good news?) and prepared a more detailed page on what seems to me to be a better understanding of the core of our faith and message (What message?).
I still think this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of christianity, yet it is right at the core of our belief.
Recently I discovered this post (Rethinking the gospel) by author Frank Viola on similar matters. Worth checking out.
Another common argument used against christian belief is that the New Testament is unreliable and historically inaccurate. The argument focuses on a number of apparent inconsistencies in the gospel accounts, which, it is said, make the accounts unbelievable.
Is there any substance to these claims?
I have previously reported on the ethical dilemmas posed by eating chocolate, due to the trafficking and exploitation of children in growing cocoa in West Africa (see My pleasure, their misery? and Easter eggs and slavery), and on the responses to my letters to chocolate manufacturers (see Fair Trade chocolate – report 1).
I have received some more replies, and have researched some more information, all of which is very revealing.
Bart Ehrman, a respected New Testament scholar who is not a christian, has recently written:
“Jesus is best understood as a Jewish apocalypticist from the backwaters of a rural part of the Roman empire, a Jewish preacher who got on the wrong side of the law and was executed for crimes against the state, how is it that within sixty years of his death his followers were saying that he was a divine being? And that within 150 years they were saying that he was the second member of the Trinity?”
What are christians to make of this?
I’ve always been interested in astronomy and cosmology, and sometimes wish I’d studied it. I find the universe fascinating and amazing to look at, think about and learn about.
Cosmology has also always been of interest to theists, as it seems to point to the existence of a creator God. The cosmological argument and, in particular, the teleological argument (see The universe points to God) have evolved over centuries based on the discoveries of cosmology. And therefore, of course, it is of interest to atheists, who wish to combat the arguments.
I want to introduce you to one atheist physicist with expertise in cosmology who I think you ought to know – an Aussie, Luke Barnes.