I was on twitter and came across this image.
This is a common thing atheists like to do while on twitter. They will post pithy things (commonly in graphic format) that misrepresent a Christian argument or reason for belief and then pretend they’ve refuted the Christian position. This is known as the strawman fallacy. Here’s an example of another strawman.
- Person A says that all squares have 4 sides
- Person B says that Person A said that all 4 sided shapes are squares
- Person B presents rectangles
- Person B declares Person A’s argument incorrect.
That of course is an obvious example. The one in the graphic is less so. Let me explain why it is a strawman fallacy. The image presents the Christian argument as though it is because the Bible contains actual geographic locations then that proves the Bible is true. That is not the Christian position. What the inclusion of actual locations does demonstrate is that the author either had firsthand knowledge of the location or knew of someone who did. For example if Rowling’s descriptions of Kings Cross Station in the Harry Potter books is accurate (I don’t know, don’t live in England) then you could rightly assume that she either had firsthand knowledge of it or was able to get a good description from someone who did.
That’s the argument Christians are making. There are many towns and features of cities that are in the New Testament that were lost in the first century (particularly during the Jewish Revolt in the 60’s – 70 AD). These places, based on recent archeological finds, are being found to be very accurate. This is important because a common assertion of the atheist is that the texts of the NT, particularly the Gospels, were written in the mid to late 2nd century. Long after any eyewitnesses. But if the writers were able to write with accuracy about these locations it is not logical to believe that they were not familiar with them or had spoken to those who were. If I was to write a story that included, let’s say, 19th century San Francisco as a setting, I would likely make errors in my descriptions of the city, especially if I didn’t do any research. And remember the people writing the New Testament had no way to do the extensive research we can do today.
So yes, while accurate descriptions of locations don’t prove that the story written is true, they do demonstrate good firsthand knowledge of the location in question from either the author or a person known by the author. And that is the point of demonstrating the knowledge of actual places in the Bible. It shuts down the “no eyewitness” argument presented by atheist.