The Passing of Christopher Hitchens: Carrying misconception to the Grave

Last week news outlets worldwide reported the passing of noted journalist and author Christopher Hitchens.  Hitchens, a preeminent controversialist, was a prominent critic of the Gospel, especially noted for his book: god is not Great – How religion poisons everything.  I had read his book quite carefully, hoping to find well-balanced reasons for his hostility to the Gospel.  I found that though he had very pithy and witty lines, and that he could deliver with withering sarcasm, his hostility crowded out a sense of balanced reason.  He was also poorly informed on the reliability of the Bible.  Here are some of things he said about the Bible that the BBC reported in its obituary:

“(The New Testament) is a work of crude carpentry, hammered together long after its purported events, and full of improvised attempts to make things come out right.”

“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”

I noted the following statements when I studied his book:

… the case for biblical consistency or authenticity or ‘inspiration’ has been in tatters for some time, and the rents and tears only become more obvious with better research…” (p. 122)

Though he had a reputation as an ‘intellectual’ these statements are simply that – sheer assertions without any supporting reasons – just as dogmatic and religiously held as the assertion ‘God is Great!’  Hitchens obviously never took the time familiarize himself with the information that are covered in Sessions 3, 4 & 5.  There are many reasons for a person to reject considering the gospel: atrocities have been committed in the name of Jesus, following the gospel is difficult, and a bewildering array of evil things continue marching on in this world, as if oblivious to the hand of a good God.  But the case for the reliability of the Bible is a solid one.  It is a pity that so few, Hitchens being a prime example, look into it.

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3. Assessing ‘The Book’ – Considering the Textual Reliability of the Bible

Have the books of the Bible been changed or modified over time such that their original message has been corrupted and, practically speaking, lost?  In the university environment I find that many almost assume that this must be so since these books were originally written so long ago.  Well-known advocate of atheism, Richard Dawkins, in his best-selling book, The God Delusion, confidently asserted this is indeed so to millions of his readers by writing of the books of the Bible that:

“All were then copied and recopied, through many different ’Chinese Whispers generations’ by fallible scribes who, in any case, had their own religious agenda”  (p. 92)

Is this true?  Is there even an academic discipline that can answer this question?  We look first at the books of the New Testament.

 

But what about the Old Testament?  The manuscipt basis for the Old Testament is different enough that it warrants its own discussion which is highlighted in the 7 minute video here.

 

Blog Posts Related to this Session

  • September 30, 2012 - Did Jesus have a wife?

  • March 19, 2012 - Considering the Septuagint: Today’s forgotten book that changed human history (Part 1)

  • January 16, 2012 - Did Constantine corrupt the Gospel or Bible?

  • December 31, 2011 - Your Common-Sense, Practical Test for the Reliability of the Bible

  • December 21, 2011 - The Passing of Christopher Hitchens: Carrying misconception to the Grave

  • [Click here for perspective on what Qur’an says about Reliability of the Bible]

    [Click here for perspective on what Sunnah teaches about Reliability of the Bible]