The Circular Reasoning of Christian Apologetics

April 2, 2007 at 6:57 am 14 comments

MosesI’m always fascinated by the circular reasoning of Christian scholarship. In fact, some of the more entertaining reading on the web are Christian Apologetics sites. Even as a fundamentalist Christian, I remember being totally unimpressed with Josh McDowell’s Evidence Demands a Verdict.

Growing up in church, it’s easy to assume that the Bible, beginning with the books of Moses, gives a true history of the world. After all, Genesis 1:1 states that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible then proceeds to document the history of humanity. However, upon closer study, one would discover that this history of humanity is from the perspective of one small group of people who referred to themselves, of course, as “God’s chosen people.” If you did not live within this very small region in the Middle East, you may has well have not existed.

I recently read a piece entitled “Did Moses really write Genesis?” by Russell Grigg addressing the “deadly hypothesis denying that Moses had anything to do with Genesis.” The author lists the following six “evidences” Moses authored Genesis:

  1. Contrary to the views of Wellhausen and others, archaeological research has established that writing was indeed well known in Moses’ day. The JEDP hypothesis falsely assumes that the Israelites waited until many centuries after the foundation of their nation before committing any of their history or laws to written form, even though their neighbours kept written records of their own history and religion from before the time of Moses.

  2. The author is obviously an eyewitness of the Exodus from Egypt, familiar with the geography, flora and fauna of the region; he uses several Egyptian words, and refers to customs that go back to the second millennium bc.

  3. The Pentateuch claims in many places that Moses was the writer, e.g. Exodus 17:14; 24:4-7; 34:27; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:9, 22, 24.

  4. Many times in the rest of the Old Testament, Moses is said to have been the writer, e.g. Joshua 1:7-8; 8:32-34; Judges 3:4; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 21:8; 2 Chronicles 25:4; Ezra 6:18; Nehemiah 8:1; 13:1; Daniel 9:11-13.

  5. In the New Testament, Jesus frequently spoke of Moses’ writings or the Law of Moses, e.g. Matthew 8:4; 19:7-8; Mark 7:10; 12:26; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:46-47; 7:19.

  6. Other New Testament speakers/writers said the same thing, e.g. John 1:17; Acts 6:14; 13:39; 15:5; 1 Corinthians 3:15; Hebrews 10:28.

Notice that these four (of six) “evidences” uses the Bible to prove claims of the Bible (the circular reasoning). His other two points were just as weak. If we use Grigg’s logic, we can assume that Louis L’Amour lived during the days of the Wild West since he was obviously “familiar with the geography, flora, and fauna of the region.”

It seems as if most scholars (Christian and Secular) agree that Moses lived somewhere between 1400-800 BC. Even if one holds to the belief that the earth is 6,000 years old, there is a lot of time between day 1 and 1400 BC including a catastrophic flood. However, miraculously, records were passed down from Adam to Moses through Noah over the span of almost 3,000 years (again assuming the earth is 6,000 years in age). It’s also important to note that the earliest writings were crude symbols dating to about 3500 BC and we can safely assume that modern civilization has existed since at least 10,000 BC.

Why can’t Christians see the improbability that someone living 1,000 years or so before Christ accurately documented the history of the world and that all scientific and archaeological evidence we have that contradicts this myth is not flawed?

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Theism, agnosticism and atheism If Christians are wrong, they have everything to lose!

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pistolpete  |  April 2, 2007 at 11:04 am

    You may want to check out a new archelogical find that calls into question traditional Christianity. It’s posted as “Judas & Mary Magdalene: Lovers?” on my blog.

  • 2. agnosticatheist  |  April 2, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    pistolpete,

    This is simply trying to distract folks so they won’t see the real archaeological findings. However, it doesn’t change reality.

    aA

  • [...] and censored as long as it has existed… The only claims of is accuracy are based on it itself… The Circular Reasoning of Christian Apologetics __________________ (Click for tsahaylu) Tree of Souls is OUR community. If you have any [...]

  • 4. Russ Hock  |  June 14, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I have no question regarding the existence of The Christion God. However, Why would anyone spend so much time, effort and intellegence on a subject one doesn’t believe to convince others of it’s non-existence. This is about as cicrular as it gets by my reasoning.

  • 5. mec  |  June 14, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I, for one, am glad they do spend the time, effort, and intelligence. This site has been a great help to me in the process of deconverting over the last few years.

  • 6. Quester  |  June 14, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Hear, hear, Mec!

  • 7. Sarah  |  June 14, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    This site is helping me a lot as well. I found it while questioning certain church teachings and now am finding more to question.

    I’m glad that people take the time to respond to everyone, whether our comments are worth the effort or not.

    To build on #5, someone once told me that we need to read the bible as jesus did, since he was God. so, if jesus said moses wrote it then either moses wrote it, or jesus wasn’t god.

  • 8. Quester  |  June 15, 2010 at 12:51 am

    If you want to read the Bible as Jesus did, you have to stick to the Old Testament, and memorize it. *grin*

    When I was a teenager, I got stuck on the question, “If Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch, does that include Deuteronomy 34, which describes the death of Moses and what happened after?”

  • 9. portwes  |  June 15, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Russ, if you have no interest in testing the credibility of what you believe, then why are you posting here? The reason why we ex-christians are here is because we broke free of the circular reasoning, and learned to think and reason independently, and examine claims of truth as outsiders. We wish to be a support for others who are starting to think for themselves. And there are people every day who discover this site, who suddenly realize they are not alone in their discomfort with their christian beliefs. See comments #7 & #8 as examples. If you have no questions or doubt in the slightest that christianity is the way to know god, then you are wasting your time here. And congratulations on having the ultimate truth on eternal matters: you must be very proud!

  • 10. Thomas / Tomas S  |  June 15, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Josh McDowell’s Evidence Demands a Verdict is special to me because it was@  <n I was finally honest with myself that I no longer believed. As a last attempt to save my faith, I picked up a few books including The Blind Watchmaker (or possibly The Selfish Gene) and BOTH VOLUMES of Josh McDowell's books. I kept them for years because I paid good money for them, but you'd think that with a title like that there'd be some actual evidince inside.

  • 11. Thomas / Tomas S  |  June 15, 2010 at 6:27 am

    Josh McDowell’s Evidence Demands a Verdict is special to me because it was right there when I was finally honest with myself that I no longer believed. As a last attempt to save my faith, I picked up a few books including The Blind Watchmaker (or possibly The Selfish Gene) and BOTH VOLUMES of Josh McDowell’s books. I kept them for years because I paid good money for them, but you’d think that with a title like that there’d be some actual evidince inside.

  • 12. Quester  |  June 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    you’d think that with a title like that there’d be some actual evidince inside.

    Well, we can’t really blame McDowell for that. There is no evidence for him to have included. We can blame him for perpetuating the myth that there is such evidence, and profitting from that.

  • 13. Dave Grison  |  July 12, 2011 at 12:59 am

    @Russ, “Why would anyone spend so much time, effort and intelligence on a subject one doesn’t believe to convince others of it’s non-existence?” Answers – (1) to counter the all-too-frequent chorus of those that wish to “witness” to us. (2) because it’s important not to let the irrationality take over as then we’re screwed.

  • 14. catherine  |  December 17, 2011 at 2:54 am

    I’d really like to know what drives Christians to go witness anyway. I never had the slighted urge.

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Attention Christian Readers

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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