This is one just one post that is part of a point by point discussion regarding whether the New Testament writers were lying or not. Each point being its own post. All the points that I’ve published so far are found in this post: Are The New Testament Writers Lying? : A Point By Point Discussion. This is an ongoing discussion, so please be patient and com back often
Robin Harrison comments in blue
Dan Muhlenkamp in black
Point 1: You cannot prove the authors were not lying. This point was not in the original post but was brought up by Robin Harrison and is fundamental to the rest of the debate. It is a good starting point.
The purpose of this article seems to be to instill more legitimacy towards Christianity by proving that the New Testament was not intentionally deceitful, without regard to whether it is accurate or not. I see two faults at this core of the article: (1) it is impossible to prove that it is not a lie and (2) whether it is a lie or not is irrelevant.
Proving that there are no lies is the logical equivalent to proving that there are no aliens. One could be fairly courageous and say that there is no evidence to make one believe there are no lies in the old testament, just as one could say there is no evidence to believe that aliens do not exist. Either way that prove that the New Testament has no lies (or that there are no aliens) – only that we haven’t discovered any yet. Similarly, in biblical times there was no evidence (or no evidence was yet discovered) to make one believe that the Earth was not fixed in the center of the universe. In fact Psalm 93:1, 96:10, 104:5, and Chronicles 16:30 all make statements similar to “the world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.” It wasn’t until nearly year 1600 that Galileo found evidence to support elsewise! For 1600 years after Jesus and the setting of the New Testament, any “evidence” humans possessed supported the idea that the Earth was fixed in the center of the universe. None of this evidence could prove that the Earth was fixated in the center of the universe, just as none of the evidence in this article can prove that the New Testament is not a lie, perhaps making this article irrelevant.
Robin may be correct when he says you cannot prove the New Testament is a lie. It depends on your definition of “prove”. It is a bit like a civil lawsuit where the fact may not be 100%, but the evidence points in a direction “beyond reasonable doubt”. Very seldom in life do we make decision with 100% surety but we often make choices because the majority of the evidence leads in one direction or another. Not being able to come to a 100% conclusion doesn’t make the evidence irrelevant or a wise decision impossible.
Robin also uses a analogy that is the exact opposite of the position I took in the article. He comparing the article to someone saying there that something is true (like the existence or non-existence of aliens) because there is a lack of evidence that it is false. I am not claiming the New Testament authors are being honest because there is no evidence they are lying. I am presenting reasonable evidence that they are telling the truth. A proper analogy would be to say “I believe there are aliens because I have clothing, food, metals, and writings that are not like anything Earthlings can produce and they were left here by the spaceship we have a picture of.” Such evidence of aliens would not be 100% proof, but it would be very convincing. I am presenting evidence that I believe makes it more than likely, perhaps even “beyond a reasonable doubt” though not 100% certain, that the authors are being honest. I am NOT relying on a lack of evidence to make my point.
I wonder if Robin makes this point precisely because he does not present any evidence that the authors are lying. However, his lack of evidence, doesn’t mean I have a lack of evidence, as the majority of points here are reasonable though not perfect pieces of evidence. If Robin had not attempted to counter most of my points, I would have assumed he simply didn’t read the article. As he obviously did, I have no explanation for his claim that my argument depends on a lack of evidence.
This point alone is not bullet-proof, but a realistic appraisal would say that this point does lend some support to the honesty of the New Testament. It is a stone of the truth side of the balance.
I wrote a post explaining why I believe the New Testament is NOT a lie. I received 2 thoughtful responses from Thomas Muhr and Robin Harrison. Thomas’ response was shorter and more general, but very good. Robin’s response is a point by point essay. I believe each point and his comments are worth considerable discussion and decided to make each point its own post by merging the two papers and adding my comments. Additional comments by Robin or anyone else is encouraged. Links to all related discussions are in the discussion center post below.
Other Posts In This Series
- If I Were God: I would have made it impossible to think the New Testament was a lie.
- God Made It Clear That The New Testament Is Not A Lie
- The New Testament Is A Lie Because…# 2
- The New Testament is a lie because…# 1
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 1 – You Can’t Prove Anything
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 2 – Whether It Is A Lie Or Not Is Irrelevent.
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 3 – Just because it isn’t a lie, doesn’t make it true
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 4 – The conspiracy would have been immense and incredibly difficult to concoct and maintain.
- Are The New Testament Writers Lying? : A Point By Point Discussion
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 5 – No liar would have had Jesus appear to women first.
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 6 – The writers would not have any discrepancies in their stories.
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 7 – The writers would not have made themselves look so bad.
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 8 – The writers would use "Jesus said…" to solve their problems.
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 9 – Liars would never have created a religion that was so difficult to believe or follow.
- Is The New Testament A Lie: Point 10 – Liars would never imagine such a twist of belief.