Inspecting "The Evidence of the Christ" - Part 1


This post is a direct response to a post made on The important lines will be quoted here, but you are encouraged to read it for yourself before continuing.

“In this age of knowledge, people do not want to accept something that has no proof.”

Credit must be given to the spirit of this recent blog post. The author, Phil Parsons, is absolutely right that nonbelievers – and people in general – do not want to accept something that has no proof. We do live in an age of information. In seconds we can find the answer to even the most obscure questions we can conceive.

“People want evidence to rest their eternity on; therefore because they assume Christianity has no evidence, they will not even entertain its possibility. Unfortunately, many of these people will not test their assumptions. Instead, they assume their assumptions are correct.”

Unfortunately for Christians, most answers to questions of a divine nature don’t actually stack up as well as they’d like. It is exceedingly rare to find a nonbeliever who describes themselves as being unable to muster the faith required to believe… Rather, they simply don’t find the evidence compelling. Let's take a look at what evidence is first referenced in an article that is attempting to contest that:

“…in Colossians 1:16… “all things were created through him and for him.” That means that our Universe points to Christ. So for example, the Earth revolves around the Sun. Why? Because it points to the reality that we must revolve around the Son of God as the light of our lives (John 1:9).”

It’s truly unfortunate that most Christians when asked for evidence will immediately turn to the Bible. Especially with such a poetic verse that is difficult to interpret as any kind of factual statement. We have to make a distinction between a "claim" and "evidence that supports a claim". The vast majority of the writings in the Bible can only be classified as claims, which have very little external evidence to support them. To see why this example is especially unfulfilling, let’s look at the etymology for the words Sun and Son.

Son – Old English sunu, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zoon and German Sohn, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek huios.

Sun – Old English sunne, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zon and German Sonne, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek hēlios and Latin sol.

In modern English we can see that these two words are not directly related. They are simply homophones, or words pronounced the same way but with different meanings. So not only are they not actually etymologically related, but it should be obvious that not everyone speaks English. Jesus certainly didn’t. He spoke Aramaic and in Aramaic the word for “son” was pronounced like “bar” and the word for “sun” was “shemesh”. Unless this coincidence was only intended for English speakers who like homophones, this probably shouldn't qualify as evidence for Christianity.

It is also implied in Parsons’ explanation that the Earth revolves around the Sun for the express purpose of providing evidence of Jesus. Which is to ignore the entirety of scientific knowledge relating to gravitational dynamics and planetary motion. The Sun is a single, relatively unremarkable star in a universe with billions and billions of stars. Many of which we now know to have their own planets also revolving around them. We know exactly why the Earth revolves around the Sun and we can even predict its future motion with complex mathematical models. It’s entirely natural and within our understanding of physics.

More than all that, it seems strange that Parsons would use John 1:9 as a Bible reference here, which makes no comparisons to “light” or “revolving” at all. John 8:12 would have been more fitting within the metaphor of Jesus as a source of light and life:

(John 8:12) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

It’s a great passage and a strong metaphor used in literature long before the Bible (Greeks and Egyptians had their own Sun gods for example), but it’s not evidence for Christianity.

Next we get this claim:

“All humanity longs for marriage. Why? Because marriage is a symbol ordained by God to point to the union between Christ and His people. (Ephesians 5:32).”

This statement ignores anyone who does not long for matrimonial coupling. Not all humans are born with an innate need to bond with someone through marriage. Many couples just never feel the need to get hitched. Some people don’t even feel a need to “couple” at all, choosing a celibate lifestyle instead. What symbol should these individuals use for the metaphorical union between “Christ and his people” then if a desire for marriage is not instilled in them?

Even if we were to accept the premise that “All humanity longs for marriage”, it's difficult see how a metaphorical symbol qualifies as evidence. It is quite easy to use this logic to support almost any symbolic belief you can imagine. For example: “All humanity needs to breathe air. Why? Because it is a symbol to remind us of ‘prana’, the breath of life, the energy of all the universe. This is evidence in favor of Hinduism.” It is unlikely that many Christians would find that to be compelling evidence despite the identical line of reasoning.

It’s also worth noting here that Christianity did not invent the concept of marriage, nor did Judaism for that matter. Even Christian scholars will agree on this point. So how does a symbolic bond that predates Christianity get co-opted exclusively into Christian theology as evidence for its universal origins?

Then we get this confounding statement:

“Humanity longs for a King. Why? Because Christ is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.  (Revelation 17:14).”

Do we long for a King? History seems to point strongly in the opposite direction. The United States of America likely wouldn’t exist if not for the founding fathers’ adamant rejection of a monarchy. In fact, they had a few choice words to share on that system of governance and its moral failings. Ask any Christian (outside the context of “Jesus as Lord”) if they would want a king to rule over them and they would likely all answer the same. Again, it is difficult to see how any of this yet qualifies as “evidence for Christianity”.

So far we’ve covered only a single paragraph of “evidence” from the original post, so this examination will be split up into two parts. All of the points made by Parsons so far are can only be described as “cultural relativistic evidence”, or perhaps more succinctly: Platitudes. Christians often believe that because they find an idea to be common sense, poetic, or fulfilling in the context of their cultural background, that means it can be used as a supportive argument for the factual claims held by their religion. These are the kinds of arguments that all religions use to claim that theirs is the one true religion. Simply put, if the same logic can be applied to argue for the factual nature of any religion then it does not satisfy a standard of evidence that should have any bearing on realityMetaphors and word-play do not qualify as evidence.

Continue to Part 2