Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

Literal and Innerant Word

Lee Strobel will not make it to my pages very often. His whole shtick is something to the effect of:

I used to be an atheist, and then I looked at the evidence and concluded God exists, and you should too!

Then in a series of money making books and videos he takes you through his evidence, generally consisting of arguments from incredulity from "scientists" from the Discovery Institute (even though I have only a few readers...i'm not linking there). Tiny Frog has done a pretty good job of taking apart his ridiculous "Case for Faith" in 5 different posts.

While looking up video debunkings of the same books from extant dodo (please see these, they are pretty well done for a shoestring), I found a Strobel video concerning I book I read. Here it is.

Basically, what happened is that some religious person read Ehrman's book and said something to the effect of: 'Oh my lord! You mean the bible is not the literal and inerrant word of God! People wrote it and modified it! My faith is crushed!' [hyperbole mine]

Lee then gives the standard GodBot review of the book: 'Nothing in here is controversial nor new and therefore your faith should not be affected'. He tried to make the claim that all the old texts are dust. Someone clearly hasn't even bothered to visit the Yale library that even has early syrian and coptic versions..We do in fact have some very old and very good condition manuscripts, that have not gone to dust. We have versions that pre-date 600AD. and we literally have many thousands of copies of various manuscripts. The differences between them had to come from somewhere! Certainly the original ones are dust, but that is the whole point of the book, there is no original bible.

What he totally fails to make any sort of statement on is the original complaint of his audience member. Tons of pastors, priests and parent across the country are literally brainwashing their kids with the idea that the bible is inerrant and literal. By doing this, they can pretend the Bible can be referred to as fact, because of course, God wrote it. So yeah, finding out that God makes spelling errors, doesn't know how to correctly translate his text from one language to the next and adds parts to it, should be pretty discomforting to people brought up this way. And this is an awful large portion of America, that would happily vote scary people into office.

Further, Lee totally ignores one of the biggest assertions of the book. He pretends that the big controversy was about the Trinity concept. Why didnt he mention anything about the fact that the "Let he without sin cast the first stone story" (John 8:3-11) didn't appear in any of the earliest and best manuscripts, you know, the ones that were closer chronologically to the initial writings? This is clearly an addition, albeit a fine story,

Lee also writes off that difference in manuscripts as a "few spelling errors". His audience member that wrote the email to him could not possibly have been satisfied by that answer. According to Ehrman and others, there are currently more differences between the various historical manuscripts of the bible than there are words in the bible itself. Um, thats a lot of spelling errors.

Ehrman discusses at length about how changes get into the various bibles, accidentally and intentionally. Intentional changes are a result of racism, misogyny and politics, but Ehrman really takes you back to the time. Prominent clergy had their own versions, versions they thought were best and had them copied and distributed. Politics became important while the religion of Christianity was evolving, the result is a version of the bible that 'won', through the political struggles of man, centuries after Jesus existed.

Strobel also tries to reaffirm the major tenets of the Trinity in his video. Once again completely ignoring the evolution of Christianity or any religion for that matter. Jesus didn't die and then all of a sudden Christianity existed. Nothing in any human culture behaves that way. The concept of one god had to permeate (i.e. the rise of judaism and islam) and then the idea of Jesus as God's son( or as God or whatever) had to permeate. Many of the differences and changes in the initial biblical manuscripts had to do with adaptation of the newer religion into the older pagan ones, or vice versa. Much like how when western medicine was brought to China, the doctors insisted in injecting vaccines and medicines into acupuncture points. A quick read of Erhmans other history of Christianity, Lost Christianities goes through this much better, than this book, or my very brief synopsis.

Instead of saying that the bible may be a good guide (something I don't really see, but whatever), but it is not inerrant and that you can still have your faith and belief in God, he simply ignores all this as if he didn't even read the book (LOL, either of them). Sadly, this is the same tact other critics have taken when evaluating Ehrmans book.

It is a great disservice to the humanity to keep perpetuating obvious falsehoods like this. General belief in God or gods is fine for the most part. Most people are not driven to genocide, rape or theft by it. However when making moral statements, isnt it better to subject it to humanity's interest rather than one of many possible sky daddies?


On 1/22/08, 10:14 AM , Genewitch said...

hey techskeptic, this is genewitch... do you happen to know why i got my IP Banned over at the "common ground" forums?

Due to the page's archive i was under the assumption that i didn't have to register to post...

Did I make a really bad Faux-Pas that isn't listed on the "forumers TOU" agreement? I'd have emailed you, but no idea how...

On 1/22/08, 6:34 PM , Techskeptic said...

yeah, just email me... you didnt do anything wrong. your IP_ got caught up in some sort of spam thing.


Tell me your ip so I can get it fixed.

On 4/9/08, 1:31 PM , Brent Colaw said...

I haven't read the whole post yet so I can't respond to the whole thing, but I don't understand why you call Strobel's belief a shtick. Do you believe Strobel is lying about once being an atheist, or do you believe he is lying about now being a christian? Do you think his books are just an attempt to make money or delusional ramblings of someone crazy enough to believe christianity's tenets? I'm curious about how you view him.

On 4/9/08, 2:59 PM , Techskeptic said...

Strobel is not the only creationist running around saying "I used to be an atheist, but now I know so much better!!!" Its a common tactic from them. I have no idea if he was an atheist before, I suspect he just didnt really think about it much. Then when he did, he just fell right back into his upbringing. I say that, because his arguments are not only so weak, they are old! He is just repackaging them. Tiny frog has certainly done a good job of ripping apart the case for faith (as have Extant Dodo but of course the discovery institute, instead of actually commenting or defending their work.... they had YouTube take it down)

I don't think he is intentionally lying, I think he just isnt very smart or examining. He chooses to employ every fallacy in the book to make his case. So yeah, while he might actually believe his crap, I doubt he minds making money over spreading it.