So for some reason Wednesday morning my I had more than 20 twitter notifications related to a conversation I was involved in back in April. I thought it was weird to have that many from that far back. I went looking and I saw this inspiring tweet:
I found that to be an interesting source. First of all Plutarch (who the book is using as its source) wasn’t born until about 45 AD. So that would mean if there was any copying going on it would be likely that Plutarch, in his history about Romulus, was copying the Gospel narrative rather than the other way around. Especially since earlier sources (or at least the ones we think are earlier since we don’t have very early copies of any of these works) have Romulus as the son of either Mars (not God in the way the text implies) or Hercules, he was to be killed as an infant in multiple different ways (almost never by a sword) and his mother was certainly not considered a virgin after his conception (she was considered to have broken her vows). And children of polytheistic gods were not what you would consider unusual.
On a side note, it’s also curious that Remus is left out of this narrative. There were twins involved after all (which is again another way they differ).
I pointed this out to which he replied that it didn’t invalidate his claim that the gospels were probably plagiarized.
This is a pretty big accusation. To claim that they “probably” are plagiarized is to say that you have good reason, if not definitive proof, that they are. I asked what sources they could have plagiarized from. I’ll admit this was an unfair question. But only in that I knew what he would say and I knew it was wrong. But I thought I should let him say it rather that assume he would and dismiss it.
As I expected he said:
So I replied with a link to this page which shows the claim that Horus mirrors Jesus is false. He then began trying to obfuscate the discussion we were having. He tried to make the conversation about whether Jesus is true. He tried to make it about the reliability and accuracy of scripture. I wouldn’t let him. I was very clear I was going to stay on point. He said it was probable, not possible but probable, that the stories in the Gospels plagiarized their stories from other ancient sources. I could post all the threads but if you follow the tweet above you can read the thread yourself and posting all the replies would make this a very long post.
After a while he said I could prove his idea wrong by demonstrating the reliability and accuracy of scripture. This is true. I could. However I wasn’t claiming that. He claimed something an I want him to tell me why he came to that conclusion. I pointed out that he was attempting to shift the burden of proof from him to me. He essentially said, “You are!”
Toward the end of the conversation (or at least the end at this point) he said:
I pointed out that he said two important things here. First he reiterated that he thinks plagiarism is probable (again without any evidence he can produce). Second by saying he finds plagiarism likely (while bringing up historical reliability) it is clear he believes the scriptures to not be accurate historically (not just that he doesn’t accept that they are). You see if you believe something may or may not be historical accurate document but you weren’t sure, it’s a pretty far leap to say that it’s probably plagiarized. If it is plagiarized from legends from previous cultures (or contemporary ones) it can’t be historically accurate.
So I told him I would love to hear how he came to both of those conclusions (though I would prefer to hear the plagiarism evidence first). After all, if he can prove it was plagiarized the other becomes unnecessary.
After I was clear I wanted him to back up the things he said he believed in he told me to google it and then stopped replying (I figured he would).
My takeaway is that internet atheists love to demand evidence. If I say I believe the gospels are accurate they will demand proof. They also love to claim they make no claims. They only believe in what they have evidence for. However it’s clear this guy has no evidence for his claims. He has a belief. He takes it on faith that what he believes is true (though he wouldn’t call it that). These are his a priori assumptions. When you come across an atheist who makes one of these claims, don’t let them wiggle out of it or push you to a tangent. Make them stay on point. They won’t like it but, even if they don’t admit it, you could open up a weak spot in their world view that will allow the Gospel in.
He actually could have avoided most of the thread pretty easily (besides just not tweeting in the first place). When I pointed out that the two “sources” he thought could be sources don’t actually work he could have admitted it. He could have said, “You’re right, those aren’t good examples. Maybe there isn’t any evidence the Gospels are plagiarized.” That would have been an internally consistent position to take for someone claiming to view the world with an evidence based world view. It’s ok to be wrong. However he never backed down. Even with his evidence shattered he continued to cling to his belief in the face of contrary evidence. Sounds a lot like what atheists accuse the religious of.
Well it seems I’ve been blocked after pointing out that he’s a hypocrite for expecting more from others than he does of himself. It’s only significant in that according to him I’m his first.