Stop worrying about new atheism, and start watching ‘woke’ atheism

I wrote a blog for Christianity magazine on the tenth anniversary of the ‘atheist bus’ campaign. This milestone made me think about how much has changed since then. While ‘new atheism’ seemed to be a threat to many Christians at the time, it’s since died down. But ‘woke’ atheism, or identity politics, that I’ve written about a few times recently, has surged in that time – and I think this is a trend that the church really needs to address.

Why we shouldn’t put all our faith in science

I did a talk about this subject recently, but some of the points are in this article in Christian Today.

Science is given an authority in our culture that often ignores its limitations – this is potentially dangerous. It’s also referred to by people who don’t understand it. Particularly in the social sciences, there are many opportunities for bias and misunderstanding. Take a look!

Bart Ehrman: has the Bible been changed, and does it matter?

Bart often tries to be fair to Christians, for example arguing with Jesus mythicists, as I’ve discussed elsewhere.

However it’s his popular books, such as ‘Misquoting Jesus’, that bear a lot of responsibility for the widely-held beliefs that our Bibles have been changed so much that they can’t be trusted. He’s argued that the early Christians decided to make up a lot of things Jesus said, or that the ancient manuscripts are so different that we can’t know what the originals said. And a lot of people believe him.

It’s true that we don’t have the original manuscripts of the Biblical text, and the ancient manuscripts we have do vary somewhat. However these variants are nearly always very small and insignificant changes, such as ‘in’ and ‘into’, which don’t change the meaning. Modern Bibles such as the New Living Translation tell you all about this in their notes.

But behind the rhetoric Bart is a bit more fair. I’ve been reading ‘Misquoting Truth’ by Timothy Paul Jones, which summarises some of these points. For example, he says this:

“It is probably safe to say that the copying of early Christian texts was by and large a ‘conservative’ process. The scribes … were intent on ‘conserving’ the textual tradition they were passing on. Their ultimate concern was not to modify the tradition, but to preserve it for themselves and for those who would follow them. Most scribes, no doubt, tried to do a faithful job in making sure that the text they reproduced was the same text they inherited.”

In fact because of the technique of textual criticism, the fact that there are multiple later manuscripts with small errors in them actually gives us more confidence in what the original text said, because the changes act as clues to trace the original. Bart acknowledges this:

If there were only one manuscript of a work, there would be no textual variants. Once a second manuscript is located, however, it will differ from the first in a number of places. This is not a bad thing, however, as a number of these variant readings will show where the first manuscript has preserved an error. Add a third manuscript, and you will find additional variant readings, but also additional places, as a result, where the original text is preserved (i.e., where the first two manuscripts agree in an error). And so it goes—the more manuscripts one discovers, the more the variant readings; but also the more the likelihood that somewhere among those variant readings one will be able to uncover the original text. Therefore, the thirty thousand variants uncovered by [John] Mill do not detract from the integrity of the New Testament; they simply provide the data that scholars need to work on to establish the text, a text that is more amply documented than any other from the ancient world.

 

 

 

What can Christians learn from atheists?

I wrote this article for Christian Today a while back, but just about to post a few new articles on here, so thought I should catch up.

It’s done quite well – always interesting to observe which articles ‘do well’ now us journos have the internet hit rate as a guide – probably because it’d appeal to atheists as well as Christians.

I offer 7 ways in which Christians can learn from our unbelieving friends, so do check it out.

I like Richard Dawkins, and these are some reasons why

I’m a Christian, and so naturally, Richard Dawkins sometimes gets right up my nose. However, there is a lot that I really like and respect about him, even though I consider his arguments against Christianity to be false.

I also think that in many ways, he has been good for the church. So I wrote for Christianity magazine, on “10 reasons for Christians to thank Richard Dawkins”. Hope you enjoy it!

Did Jesus exist?

I read a piece of ‘journalism’ yesterday that was probably the best example I’ve seen of how to make total nonsense sound reasonable to people who know nothing about a subject. It said, “A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ existence’. Who are these people? Richard Carrier. Who he? He has a PhD. That’s it. That was her ‘growing number of scholars’. But he’s not even a scholar.
Carrier is a joke. Here’s agnostic New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman on this subject, he couldn’t be any clearer:
“There is a lot of evidence. There is so much evidence… I know in the crowds you hang around with, it’s commonly thought that Jesus did not exist. Let me tell you, once you get outside of your conclave, there’s nobody. This is not even an issue for scholars of antiquity. There is no scholar in any college or university in the Western world, who teaches classics, ancient history, New Testament, early Christianity, any related field, who doubts that Jesus existed…
“The reason people think Jesus existed is because he is abundantly attested in early sources… Early and independent sources indicated certainly that Jesus existed… I think atheists have done themselves a disservice by jumping on the bandwagon of mythicism because it makes you look foolish to the outside world.”