History In The New Testament
Robert Ingersoll? If the historian is secular, does that mean they must be accurate?
THE HUMANIST'S CLAIM: Robert Ingersoll wondered why the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, the best historian the Hebrews produced, said nothing about the life or death of Christ; nothing about the massacre of the infants by Herod; not one word about the wonderful star that visited the sky at the birth of Christ; nothing about the darkness that fell upon the world for several hours in the midst of day; and failed entirely to mention that hundreds of graves were opened, and that multitudes of Jews rose from the dead, and visited the Holy City?
Ingersoll also asked, Is it not wonderful that no historian ever mentioned any of these prodigies?
Ingersolls questions are even more forceful when one considers that there still exist at least some of the works of more than 60 historians or chroniclers who lived in the period from 10 C.E. to 100 CE Those writers were contemporaries of Jesus, if in fact he ever lived.
The Fallacy of Arguing From Silence
What we have is still another person committing the fallacy of arguing from silence. Just because no one—except the Biblical writers—wrote about a historical event, does not mean it did not happen.
Humanists are intelligent people. They know that most arguments from silence are no argument at all. Historical silence may be interesting to note, but it typically does not provide anything of consequence.
ARGUMENTS FROM SILENCE
There are two types of arguments from silence. The first, and most common, is when the “missing information” is of no consequence to those who recorded history at the time. Herod’s killing of the babies discussed in chapter 75 is an example. It simply was not noteworthy at the time. It is also common for there to be compelling reasons to not record certain “facts” or events. Chapter 71 provides an example, the Persian royal family had a strong motivation to not include Esther in their records.
In addition, what is recorded in “history” not always reflects reality. Winston Churchill is said to have remarked, “History is written by the victors.” And that is true. The victors will write history in a way such that they are glorified. The losers may also record their own version of history, or… on the other hand… they frequently simply obliterate their embarrassing loss from their histories.
There are two important factors to keep in mind. Those who write history must be in a position to write their historical account. That typically means they are the ones in power. And they must have a reason to record what they record. Historically that reason most often was to make the current ruler look good.
The second type of argument from silence is when those in charge of recording history had a compelling reason to record a certain “fact” and did not record it. This provides circumstantial evidence that the silence indicates there was no evidence supporting the desired “fact.” Of course, the historical records or artifacts may not have been preserved, so this does not provide hard evidence.
I have asked this question before, but in light of the humanists continuing to argue from silence, it needs to be asked again: Why is it that if just a single ancient historian, such as Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars, for example, mentions an event, that event is assumed to have happened? However, if the Bible records an event, and even if several writers of the Bible record the event, there must also be an additional, outside record of that event? Otherwise, agnostics such as Robert Ingersoll conclude it did not happen. Why is that?
Because the Bible writers were biased? So is Julius Caesar in recording his victories in his Gallic Wars. He wants to make himself appear as perfect and great as possible. So is Josephus. He had to keep his Roman patrons happy. In addition, it is VERY obvious that the humanist who wrote the web page I have been debunking is VERY biased. Based on humanist standards, why should you believe anything the humanist says?
Robert Ingersoll - Questions Answered
The previous page anwered most of the questions raised by Robert Ingersoll. I note that his arguments from silence are not valid, not even as an indication his assertions might be true. In addition, silence means there is nothing to refute. However, as we usually do, let’s look at a couple of the claims not covered in the previous chapter and find out if there is a reasonable explanation.
BTW, who was Robert Ingersoll? He was a well-known orator in the 19th century, nicknamed "The Great Agnostic," he was a lawyer who dedicated his life to the defense of agnosticism.
The Bethlehem Star - Why is it that only the "wise men" noticed the star?
We do not know that they were the only ones who noticed the star. However, they were the only ones who noticed the star, had an idea of what it represented, and took action in a noteworthy way.
Who were the Magi (wise men)? They were most likely Chaldeans, descendants of the Babylonian Magi in Daniel's day. Daniel was chief over the Magi and it he probably taught them about the prophecies in scripture—it would have been something they would be very interested in learning. The prophecies Daniel passed on to them remained a part of their "database" so that when their decedents noticed the star, they made the connection with the prophecies and wanted to investigate... and so they went to Jerusalem, the center of Daniel's religion. The place that would most likely have information about the prophecies and the prophesied king.
Many other people probably noticed the star... "Wow! Cool. Look at that bright star!" Then they went back to their normal lives.
What About The Graves Opening And People Coming Out?
The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city
and appeared to many. - Matthew 27:52-53
The humanists claim that "hundreds" came out of the grave. However, that is not what scripture says. Scripture refers to "many." What number is that? We do not know what specific number Matthew would consider as many. It could be five, ten or fifteen.
Matthew is the only place in the Bible the graves opening is recorded. Why is that? It fits with the over strategy Matthew was using in his gospel. He was writing to Jews and showing them the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy . SA goodv resource on this subject is an article and video on the CreationToday web site. Here is what they say:
Now why is Matthew the only one to talk about this event? Matthew clearly wrote his Gospel to Jewish readers. He repeatedly emphasized the fulfillment of Old Testament
passages. In just the first two chapters of his book, he explains four events occurred to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet(s) (Matthew 1:2223; 2:15, 17, 23). He knew his readers were very familiar with the Old Testament.
Matthew mentions that it was the Jews, with the exception of the Sadducees, who believed that people would physically rise from the dead. They looked forward to a future resurrection, based on passages like Daniel 12:2. Tim Chaffey writes:
"Clearly, first century Jews believed in bodily resurrectionthey just thought it would happen at the end of time. For Matthew to describe an event where multiple people were raised in conjunction with Christs death, burial, and Resurrection would not be a distraction to his readers. They might be surprised by the timing of such an event, but they would not be appalled by the idea of people rising from the dead. They might view the event as a foretaste of what is to come and confirmation that Jesus was indeed who He claimed to be. Perhaps this is why so many priests eventually came to believe in Him (Acts 6:7)."
"If this is accurate, then why did the other Gospel writers fail to mention the event? I think the reason is that they were writing to audiences consisting largely of Gentiles in a Hellenized world. For the most part, the Greeks abhorred the idea of a bodily resurrection. So while these writers needed to stress Christs Resurrection, bringing up this event would be an unnecessary distraction for their readers."
Summary: We see that the number of people who came out of the grave probably was not a number noticeable among the general population of Jerusalem, but would be noticeable among family and friends, as well as possibly some of the Jewish leaders. We also see that these events were things that would only be of interest to the Jews.
This is another invalid argument from secular silence. That secular sources are silent proves nothing. We can speculate as to why these events are not recorded in secular sources, or it could be that those secular sources were lost over the past 2,000 years. That is just speculation. The only thing we know is that we do not know why secular sources are silent. What we do have is scripture... a proven accurate source of historical information.
Finally, the previously discussed contradictions can be cited as examples of historical inaccuracies. In each instance where the Bible contains a contradiction about an alleged historical event, at least one of the accounts is wrong.
The Bible writers were poor historians, let alone conveyers of messages from an infallible God.
This is just a general statement that wraps up the historical section of the humanist's web page accusing the Bible of being unreliable. Click here for our historical wrap-up.