Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Case For Christ - Examining The Record - Rebuttal (part 2)


Continuing on with my rebuttal to Lee Strobel's The Case For Christ where I am going through the book page by page, section by section, to rebut bad arguments (and accepting good arguments).

Please don't take this as an atheist being po-faced for the sake of it, but so far, there just aren't ANY arguments in this section of the book that would convince skeptics.
It's like this book was written before rational skepticism became cool, so the arguments may have been slightly convincing in 1990, but are really lousy in 2018.

But The Case For Christ has to answer a hard question: is it a book to convince atheists, or is it a book to shore up Christian belief? Right now, it is reading like a book to shore up Christian belief, which means it's not trying hard to convince atheists.

Anyway, on with the rebutting:

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On pages 30-31, Lee Strobel calls Dr. Craig Blomberg:

"...one of the country's foremost authorities on the biographies of Jesus, which are called the four gospels..."

Now, is it right to call the gospels biographies of Jesus, since the gospels give only some page space to his birth and infancy years, much less space to his adolescent years, and absolutely zero space to the twenty years of his life leading up to his public ministry?

I may be speaking from a 21st century mentality here, but to use the modern word 'biography' and then call the gospels 'biographies' is eating your cake and having it too.
The problem is further compounded when we read actual biographies written by other professional writers/historians of Roman antiquity and find that those texts incredibly detailed and reliably accurate.

So then, why are the biographies written by Roman historians detailed and accurate, yet the biographies written by early Christians so lacking and haphazard?
The only rational conclusions I feel we can reach are that either a) early Christians weren't, or didn't have access to, professional writers, or b) that they weren't writing professional biographies.
One answer to this question is answered by looking at the textual style of Mark. We can see Mark wrote in fluent Greek prose (though deliberately in an low dialect) – Mark wasn't no dummy – so the only other conclusion left is that Mark wasn't writing a professional biography.

Which then means that the Synoptic Gospels have a problem - only 3% of the text of Mark is unique only to Mark, meaning 97% of Mark's non-biography has been cribbed/borrowed/reworded by the other gospel writers.

To look at it another way - it's like Jesus, the walking, talking incarnate son of God, did virtually nothing of note after he was a child (save for an incident here or there), absolutely nothing of note as a young adult, but then Jesus hits 30 and all of a sudden people take interest and rush to pump out literature.

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My second issue with this part of The Case For Christ relates to Lee Strobel's portrayal of Dr. Craig Blomberg.

In my opinion, Lee Strobel writes such a glowing appraisal of Dr. Blomberg, including what the man hangs on his office walls and his long list of academic credentials, that I am left with two overwhelming thoughts:

1) Lee Strobel was not trying to grill Dr. Blomberg - not at all. The questions Strobel raises are just swatted away by Dr. Blomberg, and Strobel rarely presses Dr. Blomberg for anything more than a “How convinced are you about [x]?”, “Very”, “Oh, OK!”. 

There is nothing that could even be considered skeptical in this interview. It's like Strobel is looking to justify his own faith, rather than try convince skeptics of it.

2) Given that I don't have the interview transcripts it is very hard for me to comment, and I don't want to detract from anyone's character, but the very soft-ball nature of the questioning leads me to think that there is more than meets the eye.

Either Strobel was indeed a skeptical attack dog but left it out of his book; Dr. Blomberg only agreed to the interview on the condition that it was a soft/friendly interview; or Dr. Blomberg knew the interview was going to be soft/friendly because he knew Lee Strobel wasn't a skeptic attack dog.

I can only hope that in the following chapters, Strobel gets his attack dog on, finds that there is indeed a rational case for Christ, and is able to put it into his book to convince rationalist skeptics like me.

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Until next time, stay skeptical, stay rational, stay healthy, love yourself and others.

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