CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Well, it's that time of year again to look at why Christian apologists spend so much of our time and energy meticulously arguing dozens and dozens (and hundreds of dozens!) of little points in favor of believing that something happened in history and what it means in principle for people.

That may not sound like evangelism, especially to professional and gifted evangelists, but sceptics sure realize (and sometimes suspiciously resent, perhaps reasonably so) the evangelical character of such activity -- because they're sensitive (for better or for worse) about where all those big and little pieces are ultimately pointing.

Where those pieces are pointing is an idea that, like any good idea, can still be abused in various ways to hurt people and to promote non-fair-togetherness (or "injustice" or "unrighteousness" as the term in Biblical Greek is usually translated) between people.

It might be abused so that people get the idea that mutual cooperation between persons doesn't matter, whether between creatures and creatures or between creatures and the source of our existence. Or it might be abused so that people get the idea that fair-togetherness between persons is something that shouldn't be or ultimately won't be fulfilled.

Either way, people are hurt, and so is society. And in my experience, the people who reject the idea, often primarily reject where they think the idea is going: one of those different (yet ultimately related) ideas.

So when someone (such as myself) comes along to talk about how the incarnation of God Most High, if it's true, and how the voluntary suffering of God Most High, if it's true (in one way or another), are testimony by God that He does willingly choose to value persons, giving value to persons by making us persons at all, and treasuring persons --

some people will turn around and see that as a license for us to do whatever we happen to feel like doing (because God values us and our feelings, right?) --

and some people will dig in their heels because Christians often turn around and deny that God surely or effectively values persons after all --

and I am sad to say that some people (Christian as well as non-Christian) will dig in our heels because we'd personally prefer not to value persons, maybe not even ourselves, for what we think or feel are various conveniences of our own. I am also sad to say that this is my own category!

But all of us, in fact, fall into one or even (at various times and ways) more of those categories. If you don't think you do, I confidently say you haven't been paying enough attention to what you think and do -- or perhaps you're paying the wrong kind of attention to your self.

Yet the cross says, if trinitarian Christianity is true, that not everything we happen to feel like doing is right -- and God Himself voluntarily pays for letting us act out badly on our feelings anyway, by being reckoned with the victims of injustice.

And the cross says, if trinitarian Christianity is true, that even the worst doers of injustice are still beloved of God -- and God Himself voluntarily suffers along with such people, by being reckoned with transgressors.

And what about the empty tomb, and the resurrected body?

They say, if they're true, that despite immediate tragedies of injustice, God will eventually put everything right, even better than before: because He loves even corrupted Nature (though not the corruptions), enough to suffer with us through corrupted Nature and then to triumph over the corruptions by bringing Nature through and out of the corruptions.

What's at stake for Christianity's truth -- even somewhat literally "at stake", for the cross is after all a stake -- is whether people matter and just how much people matter.

Do people matter at all?

Do people matter at all to fundamental reality?

Do all people matter to fundamental reality, or only some people?

Do people matter enough to fundamental reality? -- enough to sympathize with us? -- enough to lead us to triumph over our griefs? -- enough to let people be enemies rather than puppets? -- enough to save the worst enemies of reality?

Enough to go the full distance, however far it takes, however long it takes, until we all agree that other people (not only ourselves) do truly matter?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
A thousand times YES, into the eons of the eons!

Or, no.

Yes, or no:
that is what is at stake,
each and every Easter.

God's grace to all our readers around the world, this and every Easter.

Jason Pratt
Easter Sunday 2014
"For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, Who was announced among you by us, did not become yes and no, but in Him has become Yes! For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes! -- therefore also through Him is our Amen toward the glory of God through us." 2 Cor 1:19-20


see Metacrock's Blog, today, for my original NEW essay
"Did Mark Invent the Empty tomb?"


The purpose of this argument is merely to establish that the events described in the four canonical Gospel resurrection accounts can be construed as a coherent event. Atheists are always harping on the many differences in the accounts. They seem to feel that these amount to insurmountable contradictions, marking a totally contradictory story. But I will argue that we can pull together the events described in all four Gosples to create a unified haromny which shows that there was a single coherent event taking place.This may not mean that call differences vanish away, but most of them can be explained by the process of eye witness testimony and story telling based upon the accounts of eye witnesses. There may be a couple of loose ends, but I will argue that these are not important when one considers the over all agreement and ensuing harmony,(for harmony table click here)*

My theory is that the Gospel evangelists each spoke with different groups of witnesses at different times. I believe that the witnesses fanned out into the different commuities which produced the Gospels. Scholars no longer think of a single author producing a single gospel, but see each work as the pruduct of a whole process that centered around a community. Each Gospel is the product of a community. Matt for example is the work of a "Matthew community." These communities would have been much like schools or communies. It is my contention that the witnesses borke up and fanned about among these communites, and each Gsopel bears the unqiue persective of that communitie's band of witnesses. This explains why John focusses on Mary Magdeline, she was probably one of the most elustrias witnesses who went to live in the Johaninne community. That is crucial to my theory, because it means that John followed the exploits of that eye witness,and as John shows Mary departing at the fist sign of the stone being rolled away, that backs the theory I argue for. These gropus create a jumbaled picture when one looks at all four accounts because the acconts are coming from diffrent persectives. Some accounts, such as Mark and Matthew indicate that the original event was a confussing a freightening event. Nevetheless, it was a real event and as such most of the "contradictions" can be haromonized.

I will pull together material from all four gospels to make a coherent story. I will only concern myself withe events that happen around the actual discovery of the empty tomb. I will not concern myself with the matters pertianing to epiphanies or sittings of the risen Chrsit after the women leave the tomb area. The reasons for this are as follows: (1)Koseter says that all four Gospels and GPete follow a single ealry pre-markan source up to and including the mepty tomb, but after that the ephinanies are compilled form different sources. That being the case, we can expect some contradiction in those sources.

(2)atheist claims of contradiction as to where Jesus was and whom he appeared to after that point are unimportant. Jesus was God and he could be in two places at once, what difference does it make if he appeared to two guys on a road somewhere and then to the 11 in an upper room at the same time?

My senerio is this:

An undisclosed group of women (we can only be sure that Mary Magdeline was one of them, maybe Mary of Nazerath, Joanna,and Salome, maybe others, we can't be sure) came to the tomb early un Sunday morning. They saw the stone moved, Mary Magdeline felt certain that the body had been moved, probably to desicrate it. She immidiately ran back to tell the others, while the rest of the women ventured into the tomb, where they encountered angels telling them that Jesus had risen. On their way out of the tomb they saw Jesus himself. Meanwhile, Mary arrived at the place where the disciples waited. She brought back with her Peter and John. While Peter and John went insdie and examined the emptyh tomb, Jesus appeared to Mary outside; while the other women were at this time arriving back at the place where the disciples were waiting.

This senerio hendges upon one assumption about a verse that is not stated explicitly in the text. One must assume that the angle and the earthquake and the rolling of the stone in Matt.28:2-4 are a "flash back" or sorts, an exlaiation of what happened the night before, and that the women did not see this event. For this reason, when the angels begins to speak to the women in v5 this is after a gap of undiscloed time, and it could be either before or after they went into the tomb. The text does no specify where the angle was in realtion to the women or the tomb when he begins to speak.

The reason this is important is because if Mary was with the women and if then had seen the angel roll the stone away and the risen Christ leave the tomb, then it makes no sense of Mary M. to run back to John and say "they've taken away the lord and we don't know where they have laid him!" That is a significant problem and it can only be resolved if Mary didn't see the angel roll back the stone.

The senerio described and the interpritation of Matt 28:2-4 as a flashback is justified based upon several facts:

(1) The most important is the Greek verb for "come down" in the v2 phrase "an angel of the Lord had come down." This verb is Katabas from the base from Kantabino which means to come down. The form it is in here is the inflected tense aroist. That tense is a description of past time, but it is different form the rebular past tense. The past tense in Greek is usually formed by the imperfect tense, which is continuous action in past time. "She was going to the store." But the Aorist is completed action in past time, "she went to the store." So the imperfect is like a film of the past, while aroist is like a snapshot of the past. Since this snap shot is place d in the middel of the "film" of the women's experince, it is clear that the angel had already come down, alredy moved the stone; this is an explaition of what happened the night before. Some English translations hint at this: NAS says "an angel of the Lord had come down" in other words, this has already happened.

Reasons supporting MM's Early Departure

(1)The Greek Text of Matt.28:2-4 supports "Flashback."

The Greek term Katabas (which means "an angel had come down") is aorist tense. This is completed action in past time. The angel had come, had rolled away the stone, there had been an earthquake, the guards had fallen like dead men. All of these events had already occurred when the women got there. Here is an inflection of the verb katabas.

Katabas from Katabaino , Tense is Aorist, its a verb, active, participle, nominative,singular,Masculine.

(2) All other accounts, including Peter, say that the stone was had been moved already when the women got there.

Mark 16:4

4 "Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away."

Luke 24:2

2 "And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb..."

Peter 13:55

55 "And they went and found the sepulchre open."
(see John 20:1-2 below).

(3) John says that Mary departed as soon as she saw the stone had been moved.

John 20:

1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark,and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved,and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."

(4) "We" don't know in John 20:2 indicates Mary was not alone.

One major apparent contradiction is that Mary seems to go alone in John, and with several different people in the other accounts.But what she says in John indiates that she was with other people, but John just chooses to focuss on her alone, for reasons explained below. Moreover, that is also added reason to assume the flashback-departure theory, since the text of John validates the idea that Mary left the others as soon as she saw that the stone had been moved.

(5) The focuss of John upon just the actions of Mary is expalined by the ancient legeond that says Mary Magdeline helped John care for Jesus' mother and that she was associated with his ministry after the asscention.

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

"The Greek Church maintains that the saint retired to Ephesus with the Blessed Virgin and there died, that her relics were transferred to Constantinople in 886 and are there preserved. Gregory of Tours (De miraculis, I, xxx) supports the statement that she went to Ephesus."

This actually does link her with the John community, see my Gospel of John page to find out how.

Thus, there is reason to believe that the tradition of John preserves a neauance of the orignal event not covered by the others. The "flashback" idea haromonizes the chronological sequnce of the stone being moved with the other sources, and Mary's early departer explians why she went to John and said "we don't know where they laid him." Because even if the women had seen the angel and the rolling back of the stone, Mary didn't, she was already gone. I further contend that The other women didn't see it either, it had happened the night before. After Mary left, the other women went inside the tomb where they saw the angel, or angels.

There is a charge of contradiction between the Matt account where the angels begins speaking in v5 and is sitting on top of the stone. That necessitates that the women saw him outside the tomb before going in, which contradicts all other accounts. But this assumes that the events of v2-4 are immediate and that the women this action. If the falsh back idea is right, there is an undisclosed gap of time between v4 and 5, the span of which we are not told. So the angel begins talking to the women in v5 we are not told if they had already gone in the tomb or if this is outside the tomb.

*Table laying out all four canonical versions plus two apocryphal versions for comparision of contradictions.

Next=>Part 2

page 2

This page is from my website the religious a prori, It's a stationary site not a blog and it's all the materail on Doxa plus updates. 

this page

Hope Page: Religious a priori

This past winter, I taught a class at my church on some of the writings of C.S. Lewis. Towards the end of the quarter, the class and I read through several short works by Lewis and discussed the content of each of the works in light of contemporary America. The short works were “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” “Meditation in a Toolshed,” “Bulverism” and “Man or Rabbit.” The classes were each one hour long and mainly focused on the questions or concerns that arose from the materials. 

I am posting hereunder my discussion questions prepared for the class for Lewis’ “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”, Part I.  I have posted part II as Screwtape Proposes a Toast, Discussion Questions, Part III am purposely not posting my answers to the questions asked in the discussion questions. I want each person to work out their own answers in light of Scripture and what they may otherwise know of Lewis’ work. I would be happy to answer individual questions as they arise.

I pray that the questions may be used to deepen your understanding of the interaction between our 21st Century world and the Bible. 


Screwtape Proposes a Toast – Part I

“He that falls into sin is a man; that grieves at it, is a saint; that boasts of it, is a devil.” ~ Thomas Fuller
“For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.” ~ C.S. Lewis

1. Screwtape opens with a directive to the demons: “Hell expects and demands that it should be — as mine was — one of unbroken success. If it is not, you know what awaits you”?  Of what does this remind you from The Screwtape Letters?

2. What is the problem with the “banquet” in Screwtape’s eyes? Who was Farinata? Farinata was a 16th Century nobleman who appears in Dante’s Inferno. He was excommunicated as a heretic and believed in the superiority of noblemen.

3. Screwtape mentions three people who were feasted on as part of the banquet:

a.    The municipal authority with graft sauce – the man barely realizing he was corrupt but who did it because everyone else did,

b.    The adulterers – people who fall into unfaithfulness with spouses in response to sexy advertisements or to make themselves feel “modern or emancipated”, or to feel virile or sexy or normal, and

c.    The trade unionists garnished in claptrap – Not quite unknowingly he had worked for bloodshed, famine and the extinction of liberty. He didn’t think of the consequences of his actions, but self-importance and towing the party line were what was important to him.

Why do you suppose that Screwtape singles these people out? They are not particularly bad people, but they ended up in hell. Why?

4. What is the hope that Screwtape sees in the tepid feast? If it lacks quality, it, at least, has quantity. And most important, despite the mundane nature of the sins, they were lost – these people who “the Enemy thought them worth trying to save.” Does God find everyone worthy of saving? See John 3:16.

5. What is mortal sin?  Screwtape believes that the demons exercise skill that raises their awareness a little but not too much. He expresses a view that people who are raised too much may become aware of their sin and hence repent. People who are raised too little, don’t become sufficiently aware of what they do that they fall into a state of sub-humanity destined for limbo. Is there a Biblical justification for Limbo? Lewis believed in Limbo. It is part of his book The Great Divorce, There, he describes limbo:

“I SEEMED to be standing in a bus queue by the side of a long, mean street. Evening was just closing in and it was raining. I had been wandering for hours in similar mean streets, always in the rain and always in evening twilight. Time seemed to have paused on that dismal moment when only a few shops have lit up and it is not yet dark enough for their windows to look cheering. And just as the evening never advanced to night, so my walking had never brought me to the better parts of the town. However far I went I found only dingy lodging houses, small tobacconists, hoardings from which posters hung in rags, windowless warehouses, goods stations without trains, and bookshops of the sort that sell The Works of Aristotle. I never met anyone. But for the little crowd at the bus stop, the whole town seemed to be empty. I think that was why I attached myself to the queue.”

6. One does not have to believe that people go to limbo to understand what he is talking about. However, instead of people going to limbo, these same people would go to hell – people who do not seem to care about God or what they do. They walk through this life asleep to God and the spiritual world and morality. The do not “either the source or the real character of the prohibitions they are breaking. Their consciousness hardly exists apart from the social atomosphere that surrounds them.” Do you know any of these people?

7. Notice the work of the philological arm of hell again: a bribe becomes a tip. Discuss.

8. The road laid out by Screwtape: harden the wrong turns into becoming a habit by repetition. Next, turn the habit into a principle to defend. This then settles into a mood of “going on and being what it is” resisting moods that might alter that behavior. Screwtape calls this a rejection of grace. How?

9. The lukewarm sinner is the result of the loss of the saint. Screwtape point out that great sinners are made of the same material as the great saints. If the great sinners are petering out, aren’t the great saints, too?

10. Are people losing their individuality? Are they following the great sinners who remain? Can you think of an example of this in real life?

11. What does Screwtape have to say about Christian Socialism? How did it impact the plans of Satan? Do we need this today? What were the two attacks the lowerarchy made on Christian Socialism?

12. What does Screwtape mean when he says that there was a deep hatred of personal freedom?

13. How has the lowerarchy perverted the meaning of Democracy? How does this help hell?

[Note: last substantially updated Wednesday morning April 16, 2014]

Just to be clear -- although clarity is hard to come by on this topic -- the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" text that will be making it to publication for Easter 2014 is the possibly-forged snippet published (at the subsequent hyperlink) as a critical edition article (since a single copy of one snippet with only a few vague words and phrases doesn't need a full book for a 'critical' edition) by Dr. Karen King and Harvard University.

This GJW is not the very full text supposedly found (by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson) in a drawer in a British museum after being supposedly lost/suppressed for 2000 years, which is probably nothing other than a translation of the well-known 1st century romantic poem Joseph and Asenath. Totally and completely different texts, but the marketing histronics around each of them are kind of similar. For details about the non-King GJW, our article from October 2013 still seems to be the most recent information.

No, this is a fragment of a late Coptic text, scribed no earlier than the 600s. Marc Goodacre collects the most important current links (all from Harvard one way or another) here. The translation (and the Coptic original for anyone who cares) is public information now, so here is the full best English translation currently available of the so-called "Gospel of Jesus' Wife":

1 ] “not [to] me. My mother gave to me li[fe…”
2 ] .” The disciples said to Jesus, “.[
3 ] deny. Mary is (not?) worthy of it [
4 ]…” Jesus said to them, “My wife . .[
5 ]… she is able to be my disciple . . [
6 ] . Let wicked people swell up … [
7] . As for me, I am with her[1] in order to . [ [1 Or: “I exist with it/her”; “I dwell with it/her.”]
8 ] . an image … [
1 ] my moth[er
2 ] thr[ee
3 ] … [
4 ] forth …[
5-6 ] (untranslatable) [



Setting aside the still unresolved (and probably unresolvable) question of whether this is a forgery to begin with (though in its favor the ink does not seem to have pooled into the cracks, per one forgery expert)... what?

1.) What does this have to do with Easter?

Literally nothing other than the topic is Jesus. It might possibly perhaps maybe be a scene indicative of post-resurrection teaching, which was a popular setting for most spuriously late texts in their entirety. Or it might not. It might have been part of a text that also had post-res appearances though this one isn't. It might not have anything at all to do with the resurrection of Jesus (or of anyone else). Nothing in the text itself indicates one way or another.

2.) What does this have to do with the historical Jesus?

There was also a guy in history named Jesus who had disciples and knew someone named Mary who might be regarded as unworthy of something. Even that's kind of pushing it: the text doesn't say Mary is the woman unworthy of something. The context in which the text was found indicates this was produced by a Christian community somewhere, and so the text is talking about Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples and so also about someone connected to Jesus named Mary. (Excuse me, I mean the context in which the text might have imaginably been found. The provenance trail for the text, tracing where it physically came from, is one of the most terrible I've ever seen, and lends initial suspicion to it being a forgery fadged up to rake some money from rousing some kind of scandal in people's imaginations. To be fair, at least a book wasn't launched on the topic this Easter. Just a raft of promotional news releases.)

3.) What does this have to do with Mary?

Which Mary? Mary the mother of Jesus (not called that here directly)? One of the other Marys mentioned in the canonical Gospels as knowing Jesus? Some Mary (the most popularly attested name for Jewish women in the 1st century) not mentioned in the canonical Gospels? Some Mary mentioned in another text not the canonical Gospels? Some Mary never mentioned anywhere else but this text? A historical Mary? A purely fictional Mary?

3.1) ...uh... just, whichever Mary, I guess...

Someone in this text named Mary is regarded by someone as being unworthy of something.

People are making guesses based on a couple of other late unhistorical texts, plus similar form of wording found in this text, that this Mary, whoever she is, is being regarded by other disciples as being unworthy of being one of Jesus' disciples. That's an educated guess, but why exactly she's unworthy of whatever by whoever, is unmentioned. The somewhat-gnostic Gospel of Thomas, which this fragment resembles in some very suspicious close exactness (like it's copying from the only known extant page of it found in modern times!), seems to think Mary is unworthy to be a disciple because she's a woman. That might or might not be the case here, too. (If my reader is sensing a theme, my reader has more sense than some of the senseless sensationalism surrounding the scene of this... text. Sorry, I ran out of assonance. Maybe "text" counts.)

4.) What does this have to do with Jesus' wife?

Jesus talks to someone about "My wife". The end. Whether the Jesus of this text means a literal wife or a figurative one (like the church being a bride) is unknown. Whether he means the woman called Mary in the text (whoever that is) is unknown. He might be saying that his wife should be able to accept that Mary is able to be his disciple. It's hard to figure out what the grammar of the transition between lines 2 and 3 could mean, so the implication is that the square is cut out of a much larger page with significantly more text after the trailing lines (to the right in English). Why someone would cut out a fairly neat block of used papyrus like this, that just happens to center precisely yet with vague ambiguousness on the sole marketing reason for why anyone other than Coptic scholars would care even slightly about the text {inhaaale!}... is a mystery that only the completely unknown and in some cases anonymous trail of people behind the text, or alternately its forger, can answer.

(Along with why someone in the 600s would be using repurposed papyrus, though to be fair the carbon dating does kind of point to the page material being that old, though the first test dating back to an unusably early 404-209 BCE range would make more sense. Amazingly, either no one thought to try radiometrically dating the ink -- a material clearly made of "lamp black", a type of burnt carbon -- or the result was deemed unimportant somehow to disputes about the text being a forgery. Studying the carbon of the ink by micro-Raman spectroscopy is not the same as carbon dating the ink. It only shows what the ink is composed of materially, not the ancient status of the ink.)

5.) What does this have to do with Jesus' mother?

Someone says the mother of whoever is speaking gave him or her life at the top of one side of the page, and someone's mother is mentioned at the top of the reverse side of the page. Whether this is Jesus' mother or not is unknown; although as a general rule whenever a mother is mentioned near Jesus it tends to be Jesus' mother, so that's a reasonably educated guess.

6.) What does this have to do with the history of Christian groups in antiquity?

Assuming for purposes of argument it isn't a forgery: who knows? Whoever wrote it down in the 600s or 800s might have been responding to it, and might not have even been a Christian (though probably he was). By the 600s most Christians were trinitarian of one flavor or another, and there was never a known tradition of Jesus actually having a wife, so it isn't likely the guy writing it was trying to promote a variant Christology and/or Jesus having a literal wife.

6.1.) Wait, we thought there was at least one small tradition somewhere about Jesus having a wife...?

Jesus has a companion he kisses somewhere somehow for some purpose in the late Gospel of Philip, who seems to be one of the Marys. The term for companion might mean wife, but it might not either, and the kiss not only doesn't have to be romantic but considering the overt Gnosticality of the text it most likely doesn't: the kiss is used for transferring breath of knowledge, and Gnostic Christians weren't usually in favor of the idea of procreation to begin with (contrary to popular marketing trying to make them out to be more respectful of sexuality than the orthodox. A topic we shall return to in a minute...)

That's pretty much it. No tradition anywhere makes an overt claim about Jesus having a literal wife, though some traditions (notably the orthodox!) like to talk about the body of believers being corporately the Bride of Christ. Starting in the late 2nd century different authors (including the orthodox) start making an overt point about Jesus not having a wife, but in order to promote the honor of celibacy (in various ways) not to combat a competing notion of Jesus having a wife.

Think about it: if there was an obvious claim of that sort, little dinky vague fragments like the GJW, or esoteric interpretations of well-known romantic poems about someone else completely, wouldn't have such ridiculous popular marketing value. Dr. King herself (in a rebuttal article I'll link to below) calls the detail "startlingly new". She's right that this is not itself evidence of forgery, of course; but that's another admission that there is no extant competing tradition about Jesus being married.

6.2.) Why would the history of Christian groups in the 600s to 800s be even slightly important in popular marketing anyway?

It wouldn't. But the idea that Christianity might have 'originally' been radically different, or that a bunch of radically different Christianities had equal (and at best equally faulty) historical merit to what Jesus actually taught and intended people to believe, does have marketing value to tease or threaten a bunch of people who haven't read up enough not to be impressed with such teases or threats. Consequently, you'll see a lot of talk about how this might have been copied from an earlier Coptic text which itself might have been copied from an original Greek text which itself might have been composed as far back as the late second century (after 150 CE). Which Dr. King and other scholars directly involved with the work admit still makes not the slightest difference in favor of what the original Jesus taught or intended others to learn and pass on, thus makes not the slightest difference even in favor of radical original diversity theories. But after multiplying hypotheses through the power of innuendo, it only takes one more hypothesis to suggest by the faintest innuendo that this might after all have something to do with early Christian origins.

More directly, Dr. King et al can market the work (slicing the baloney until it's nearly transparent, so to speak) as being a worthy competitor to mainstream orthodoxy somehow which, on a somewhat related myth, started oppressing people sometime in the 2nd century with crying effects today that ought to be rectified. More on this later.

7.)  What does this "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" have to do with being a Gospel?

It slightly resembles (due to the poverty of its contents) some texts which called themselves "Gospels" after the original (or anyway the oldest surviving) four were given that title. The later Gospels do not match by genre with the canonical four, so calling them all "Gospels" as though they are all relevantly similar is misleading marketing at best -- a salient point even back in the 2nd century, when the practice started!

7.1.) Does anyone anywhere even call it a Gospel, including its original author?

I'm sure if the original author was a modern forger he or she called it a Gospel.  Otherwise, no the only people we know for sure who call it a Gospel are its modern proponents; partly for convenience of description and partly as marketing foofaraw. Whether the person who originally wrote it, if it isn't a forgery, called it a Gospel is unknown.

7.2.) Does Jesus' wife talk about any kind of salvation in it? Or any kind of good news? Does anyone at all talk about any of that?

Nope. Not by any term corresponding to 'gospel' / 'evangel', and not more generally. Wicked people are cursed or invited to swell up. Does that count?

7.3.) Does it match the genre details of the canonical four in any way?

Jesus does appear to be teaching someone something in it, the only legible detail being that some woman, who might or might not be the Mary mentioned on the previous line, is able to be his disciple. That's it. The original text (if not a forgery) might have had more common genre markers, or it might not have.

8.) So why is this rather technical Harvard Divinity School article (link provided again for ease of reference) being released with popular marketing trumpets at Easter...?!

Because publishers are in the business to make money and/or get attention for their university departments. I'm sorry if that sounds horribly cynical, but then her publishers shouldn't have tried to release and market a text on Easter week which (I must emphasize) HAS NOT EVEN ONE SLIGHTLY SIGNIFICANT THING TO DO WITH EASTER PER SE (even if the text is legitimate instead of forged).

9.) What does the Harvard FAQ page have to say about it?

It emphatically agrees (with an italicized "No") that the fragment doesn't prove Jesus was married (nor prove he wasn't married the FAQ hastens to add); provides zero evidence about the historical Jesus and what he actually intended to teach; was certainly written in the late 600s to early 800s if legitimate (though naturally they lean conveniently on the early date); by someone who was a non-professional Coptic author of the sort to copy magical books or write copy-book exercises; and is only called "the Gospel of Jesus' Wife" as an invented reference for convenience of discussion, due to the Gospel's most (or rather only) distinctive claim. It also agrees that we can know practically nothing about whoever wrote the actually existent text; and that the tiny fragment cannot provide even much information about the character of Jesus' wife or what that means within the context of the work. It's pretty straightforward and even detailed about the provenance of the fragment being (my words not theirs) extremely crappy.

10.) Does the Harvard FAQ misrepresent the situation in any ways?

Does the Pope wear a tall hat? Answer: sometimes.

The FAQ thinks the "primary" reason people suspected from the beginning the text is a forgery, is "because its contents are so unfamiliar" -- but the contents are barely detailed enough to vaguely describe, aside from Jesus calling someone "my wife" -- "or because they suspect someone might have an agenda to prove that Jesus was married or use the forgery to get rich." Protip: releasing a scholarly article with suggestive marketing during a season when the article has no topical relevance other than strong interest in Jesus, is not a good way to alleviate suspicions about profit motive. Productive university departments in the news get grants after all. Protip2: wildly overstating the "significance" of the text on multiple levels while downplaying the various hypotheses and vagaries involved, is not a good way to alleviate suspicions about ideological motives from an author with previously (and currently) vocal ideological agendas on the topic of Christian attitudes about marriage, sexuality, and reproduction.

The FAQ contrasts this "primary" reasoning from suspicious innuendo (and to be fair even some scholars sceptical of the legitimacy of the text, do resort to such suspicion from suspicious innuendo) to the "procedures" of "scholars". But the primary evidence in any forgery case, including this one, starts with a suspiciously vague and convenient lack of provenance. The FAQ admits the lack of provenance later, and in some admirable detail, but totally neglects to talk about its highly important relevance to suspicions of forgery.

I'm willing to grant that the FAQ wouldn't have to mention something as relatively minor yet suspicious as the notorious handwritten note reported by Dr. King back in 2012 in her original public announcement -- where a typed note accompanying the group of fragments where this was found, signed in 1982 by a known respected expert Peter Monroe, mentioned a Sahidic copy of GosJohn being the most notable detail of the collection, but then there was also a note handwritten anonymously calling attention to the Jesus Wife fragment and its unique importance as possible evidence that Jesus was married. Who is this unknown person who noticed what someone officially and professionally cataloging the fragments for a value estimation managed to miss?? Thank whatever Dr. King believes in that someone thought to call attention to it, or it might have been lost forever in a drawer somewhere!

Anyone seriously assessing the case for or against forgery would have to continually keep that note in account on the negative side, and any professional accounting of the evidence pro and con for a public report (with a world-famous university's reputation behind it) would have to mention that note on the negative side of the scales. But I'll grant the FAQ didn't have to mention it. What the FAQ should have mentioned, since it talks about evidence for and against forgery, is that the crappy trail accounting for the fragments counts strongly as evidence against legitimacy. An argument in favor of legitimacy might be able to overcome it, but that's certainly one thing such an argument would have to overcome. And the case for legitimacy has a lot more to overcome than that.

The FAQ obscures the scholarly complaint about copying ancient phrases. The problem isn't that the phrases were copied -- after all the text could have been competing against GosThom by repurposing phrases from it. The problem is that the copied phrases begin and end precisely where fragmentary lines of the only surviving older GosThom text begin and end. This demonstrable detail is simply not mentioned (as of this date) in the Harvard FAQ, and while its existence in a legitimate document isn't technically impossible the unlikelihood strains the credulity of some scholars. So does the formation of some of the letters, which occasionally seem to betray modern printed Coptic practices including what looks like a modern Coptic punctuation mark between two parts of a word.

Relatedly, the FAQ simply ignores several problems raised by Coptic experts in translating some of the phrases. That parenthetical "(not)" in the English translation? The reason it's parenthetical is because the sentence is gibberish in Coptic, meaning whoever originally composed the sentence didn't understand Coptic very well. A copyist in the 600s might have faithfully copied an original problem without trying to correct it, but the salient point is that Dr. King is trying to build a picture of what some putative community anywhere at any time believed about "Jesus' wife" from a grammar so screwy that it's impossible to seriously guess whether the woman (whoever she is -- Mary or Jesus' wife or both) is or is not worthy of something -- something the text as it stands does not directly address. It might be discipleship, or it might not.

The FAQ also completely ignores the fact that the clause in line six, translated as "Let the wicked people swell up", is even more gibberishy in the Coptic text -- so much so that sceptics are arguing the gibberishness can be explained best by a modern forger picking up phrases from elsewhere and dropping them together: "Evil man habitually does not habitually bring". The infinitive translation of the Coptic habitual marker as "to swell" instead, is technically possible but problematic at best and still reduces to gibberish: "Evil man to swell does not to swell bring". Dr. King has yet to seriously address this problem and its relation to theories about copy-pasting.

Out of the evidence for legitimacy summarized by the FAQ, two points (papyrus age, type but not age of the ink) have very limited weight (because any halfway competent forger would deal with those details); two other points (handwriting, and clumsy Coptic grammar) are not themselves positive evidence but evidence to be defended against as also fitting a plausible theory of legitimacy; and one point (historical context) depends on massively theoretical extrapolation from the textual details as well as multiple unsubstantiated hypotheses (of no evidence whatever) to get the composition date back to the desired point. Oddly, the one impressive positive evidence mentioned in the FAQ, the lack of pooling of ink subsequent to textual damage, is not mentioned in the summary. On the other hand, the FAQ tends to conveniently phrase references to the micro-Raman spectroscopy so that a reader who doesn't know what that is might get the impression it's dating the ink (perhaps through radiocarbon dating); when in fact the spectroscopy is totally limited to studying how the ink would be made, whether by an ancient author or by a modern forger. Demonstrating the ink isn't modern ballpoint is important, but demonstrating it's lamp black (maybe with touches of vine black) is at best only minor evidence in favor of authenticity.

It must also be said that the FAQ strongly under-reports the doubts of the two carbon dating scientists about even the results of the second test, presenting the results as solidly settled. How two highly divergent dating sets both returned probabilities over 95%, seems to be a mystery. To be fair, however, the text material might perhaps be both as old as the original carbon dating and as new as the 600 to 800s, due to multiple reuse of material stored in environmentally ideal circumstances.

But I'll hereafter set aside (so far as possible) challenges to the texts legitimacy and move along.

There is not the slightest positive evidence the text was originally composed as early as the late second century; this is purely the thinnest conjecture based on very vaguely suggestive parallels with other texts with stronger arguments for dating back that far. The FAQ kind of admits this by being almost as qualified (at one point) about it "maybe" being the copy of a copy of etc., as I was above in this article; and then merrily treats the original composition date as established with things to testify thereby about 2nd century Christian communities. This is doubtless a holdover from back when the fragment (which really ought to be called "the Jesus Wife Fragment") was first announced to the press in late 2012, when Dr. King tried to argue on the same thinnest conjecture that it represented a 4th century (300s) copy of an actual Gospel from the late 100s. That would be slightly more plausible since people in the 400s were in the habit of trying to preserve early texts by copying. Now that the date has been pushed to the early 600s at best (but just as likely the mid 800s, or even the mid 900s!), there is proportionately less reason to allow any credence to the idea that the writer was copying something from the 100s -- which is why the FAQ (and Dr. King in her more official work) suggests MAYBE it's a copy from an earlier Coptic manuscript (for example in the 400s) which MAYBE was copying from an earlier Coptic manuscript (in the earlier Coptic language period, say the 200s) which MAYBE was copying from an original Greek in the late 100s. Just how far does a thin thread have to be ever more thinly stretched before it ceases to be in any way importantly relevant?!

Despite having stretched that tiny thin thread by at least five hundred years of length (maybe seven or even eight hundred), Dr. King and the Harvard Divinity School (who at least authorized the FAQ) have not the slightest compunction about launching into a position that the extremely vague and indistinct details of the text ("tantalizing glimpses" indeed from "this tiny, damaged fragment") should outright count as "evidence... that the whole question about Jesus’s marital status arose as part of the debates about sexuality and marriage that took place among early Christians at that time." But the text as it stands is not even slightly positive evidence about any such thing; and the clearly extant full texts of the period stand as stronger evidence that the question about Jesus' marital status arose as part of the debates about whether church leaders should be (so to speak) monogamously married in permanent faithfulness to the church (like Christ) or not. This was not a small question to them, because whether Christ is married with permanent faithfulness to the church was not (and still is not) any small question for Christian soteriology (logic of salvation).

The FAQ doesn't come out and directly say the 'orthodox' party was against sex and other Christians were in favor of it just like us in the modern day y'all! -- but it implies this by selective composition and omission. Most importantly it omits the demonstrable fact that it was the opponents of orthodoxy, especially the Gnostics (often championed by Dr. King in other works, by the way) who tended to be against marriage and sexual procreation at all. Orthodox proponents cautioned that sexual behavior led people to behave uncharitably and like depersonalized animals, and admired people with the spiritual strength and discipline to overcome those problems through celibacy, but weren't generally against marriage or even sex per se: a major thrust of the orthodox anti-heretics was that God had created nature, including animal sexuality, to be good, even though sin had corrupted that nature.

The FAQ is also rather cagey about who exactly was debating whether women could even be disciples of Christ -- the citation it uses on the topic "women are not worthy of life" (by contrast to the GJW) comes from the non-orthodox text Gospel of Thomas!

The FAQ somewhat backhandedly admits that there is no demonstrable early tradition about Jesus being married -- "Christian tradition preserved only those voices that claimed Jesus never married" -- but then tries to counterbalance this with "another newly discovered writing" (if a copy recovered over 65 years ago counts as "newly discovered"), the Gospel of Philip, "show[ing] that some Christians claimed Jesus was married". But this is a highly disputable interpretation of that text, at best, and may be deductively false in context. At least the FAQ doesn't try to cite the so-called Gospel of Mary as more evidence along this line, though that was once popular to do. A reader should at least be able to see why any text at all from any Christian (even from the 800s) seeming to directly represent a claim Jesus was married, would be tempting to promote as at last actual indisputable evidence someone somewhere ever thought of Jesus really being married, to someone professionally or otherwise invested in the idea that surely some Christians somewhere had to have thought Jesus was married. "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife makes it possible [at last?!] to say that some early Christians believed Jesus was married." Sure, it's possible to say that, or even to type it, but the GJW at best counts as very vague evidence on this; and the "significant implications for the history of ancient Christian attitudes toward marriage, sexuality, and reproduction" can only be as "significant" as the significance of whatever group (or for all we know merely one person somewhere) wrote it. Which by the nature of the case cannot possibly be much significance.
The FAQ takes such a broadly vague definition of the "genre of gospel" as to be functionally worthless: "all early Christian literature whose narrative or dialogue encompasses some aspect of Jesus' career" or since sometimes even that's missing "or which was designated as a 'gospel' already in antiquity". The mere titling of something is not a sufficient genre marker in itself; but it does help justify the marketing strategy... um, I mean the titling of the fragment for convenience of discussion, as well as to minimize the significant differences between the canonical four and other texts.

The FAQ says the fragment "discusses discipleship in terms similar to select passages in other early Christian gospels", where GosMary and the Gospel of the Egyptians are considered effectively as "early" as the Synoptics -- only a hundred years' difference or more! The similarity of select passages can only be as similar as the extremely few phrases of the GJW allow, however; and so far as the Synoptics are concerned the phraseological similarities basically begin and end with "the disciples said" and "Jesus said to the disciples". Which is to say that the similarities to the Synoptics, so far as they go, mean nothing. The similarities to exact partial phrases and words in GosThom, where those phrases begin and end with damage, is rather more important; but not, ironically, in any way that helps compare the text as legitimately 2nd century! Relatedly, I defy anyone anywhere to argue that the phraseological similarities to GosMary and GosEgyptians, such as they are, are significantly more significant (so to speak) than the demonstrable and suspiciously exact relationship to the modern surviving copy of Coptic GosThom.

(In a reply to one charge of forgery -- one that unfortunately does rely partially on suspicions of innuendo -- Dr. King admits along the way of agreeing that the phrases are broadly capable of being found in GosThom, though not in particularly exact forms insisted by the scholar arguing for forgery, that the phrases are too common or too limited to be truly comparable to other works. She does not in this article mention the case for portions of lines 1 and 2 starting and stopping in synch with damaged remains of an old GosThom text known to modern scholars.)

When discussing the approximate date of original composition, the FAQ tries to argue that the composition "had to have been written after the first century c.e." "since it refers to Mary, Jesus and his disciples". What must be a truly amazing rationale behind this necessary restriction ("had to have been"!) being based on the mere reference to three topics, is sadly left to the imagination of the FAQ's reader. Surely it can only be a coincidence, though, that a project connected to the practical equivocation of importance among Gospel texts, happens to accidentally leave an implication that if a text (like, say, just for example, the canonical four) happens to mention those three topics then that text must have been written no earlier than 2nd century and so (as the FAQ notes earlier in such a case) "its late date means the author is not someone who knew Jesus [or Jesus' immediate followers] personally".

Who exactly in the Harvard Divinity School thought releasing any of this would bring more academic respect to that branch of the university?! -- or was it academic respect the authorizers of this mess were reaching for at all? If I financially supported them, I'd be furious that the prestige of the school was being sacrificed in such a laughingstock fashion, and for the sake of what exactly!

11.) We notice that the charge against the text, about two lines matching with photocopies of a damaged GosThom text, seems either to have been dropped or oddly ignored in recent discussion.

Me, too, O fictional FAQ interlocutor! -- and I don't know what to make of that. Neither have I read anyone anywhere yet refuting this observation. Still, since to me that would be the second main evidence in suspicion of forgery, after the ludicrously poor provenance tracing of the text; and since I might as well admit that sometimes legitimate texts also have ludicrously poor provenance tracing (due to the often shady nature of the antiquities market as well as substandard accounting prior to 20th century standards); I also might as well go on to ask what does it matter if the text is legitimate instead of forged.

11.1.) So what would it matter if the text is legitimately from the 7th to 9th centuries instead of a modern forgery?

I think it must be stressed (as I have tried to do above) that even if the text is genuine, extrapolating it back to a 2nd century milieu is wishful speculation at best, and trying to use that wishful speculation as any kind of positive evidence for the history of early Christian communities is professionally irresponsible at best.

The case does (perhaps inadvertently) highlight the huge differences involved in arguing for composition dates of the canonical Gospels and Acts (and, to a lesser degree the various epistles and RevJohn). Despite some definite oddities in their 2nd century transmission, those texts don't exist in a historical vacuum, and their richness of many kinds of internal details at least allows several kinds of dating arguments (from early to late) to be attempted.

11.2.) And what if solid evidence actually showed up indicating 2nd century authorship?

The significance of the authorship would be exactly proportional to the contemporary impact it had (which by all known evidence so far is none), and proportional to the cultural importance of whoever wrote it. If we had numerous strong reasons to believe it was written, for example, by the president of a catechetical seminary for some wing of non-orthodox Christianity in Alexandria, Egypt (Panneus or Clement of Alexandria being orthodox contemporaries in that time and place), that would be proportionally strong evidence for its importance in the history of diverse early Christian communities. Marcion; Valentinius; Tatian and Tertullian (in their later non-orthodox phases); these represent communities competing with the proto-orthodox party or parties. This text doesn't even have the impact in Christian culture of the Ebionites (sparse though our evidence is for them), or even the orthodox forger of Paul's Epistle to the Laodicians, much less the popular romance fable The Acts of Paul and Thecla or, heck, literally any other text known to have existed in that day -- even ones mentioned but now lost to us.

How could that possibly be a basis for adducing any weight of evidence to what Christian cultures and communities were doing in the 2nd century? It might have been written by the 2nd century version of a guy typing away alone in his office one afternoon! (Ahem....) 

 11.3.) And what if solid evidence actually showed up indicating it had some kind of demonstrable contribution to the shape of 2nd century Christian development history?

After registering deep scepticism any such evidence will ever appear -- that evidence, whatever it might be, would for all practical purposes totally eclipse the evidence from the text itself, which on its own merits is next to nothing. The short little three line messages passed back and forth (fictionally or otherwise) between Jesus and King Agaba (since Dr. King mentions that in passing during a rebuttal article) feature more solid data about the intentions meant in their composition.

In other words, any evidence strong enough to make this wisp of a snippet culturally relevant, would be important enough that we would be interpreting the snippet by that evidence. The snippet itself would remain functionally next to worthless, although still important for students of paleography perhaps. (Though this Spanish paleographer thinks not.)

12.) But what if, instead of reading the perfectly free Harvard articles linked to above, we absolutely have to spend our hard-earned money on a substantially heavy book, chock full of primary source references, published just this year, providing evidence for a fuller and more accurate history of the diverse forms, practices, and ideas held by Christians in the earliest centuries after the death of Jesus, of a sort that might not only really upset a lot of "traditional" Christians, but even has some direct connections to Easter week thematically?

You could do a lot worse, even when it comes to physical exercise, than to heft around Dr. Ilaria Ramelli's massive hardback tome The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena. If you hurry, you might be able to nab a used copy from an Amazon reseller (not me, I'm keeping my copy) for only a little less than $200 plus shipping! I guarantee you will not only build your forearm muscles and possibly cripple your wrist tendons, but you will learn an utter oil-tankerfull of (pretty-)well demonstrable facts about orthodox vs non-orthodox parties in early Christianity and the impact of their struggles on a particular area of Christian life and practice over a span of more than 600 years. (I do have one grievous nitpick, but correcting it doesn't sink the rest of the monograph.) Seriously, this is meant as a library reference book, not for mass market -- thus the high cost and lack of popular promotion, so I figured I'd take a moment to give it some Easter-relevant good recommendation. I don't personally know Dr. Ramelli, and I'm pretty sure we've never once even corresponded, so I have no personal benefit involved.

Arrogant [ar-uh-guh nt]  adjective1.    Making claims or pretensions to superior importance of rights; overbearingly assuming, insolently proud; an arrogant public official.2.    Characterized by or proceeding from arrogance, or a sense of superiority, self-importance, or entitlement: arrogant claims.
A few days ago, I was listening to a dialogue between Oxford Mathematician and Apologist John Lennox and atheist Lawrence M. Krauss entitled “Science, theUniverse and the God Question.” I call it a dialogue only because that was the goal of the program, “Unbelievable.” However, from the outset, Mr. Krauss adopted the condescending attitude that is common among those who ascribe to the views of the New Atheists which quickly drove the program into a more combative tone. The first words out of Mr. Krauss’ mouth were very combative. Here’s what was said:

Host (Justin Brierly): You’ve been involved more and more recently in discussing these issues. But I remember from what you said last week, what you’re really concerned about is not so much attacking religion belief, but making people understand what science is about what the universe is about. Is that correct?
Krauss: Yes, and also trying to be skeptical of people misrepresenting it. Yes, that’s exactly it. That’s the key thing that’s important to me. That’s what worth stressing. God isn’t important enough to spend any time worrying about, but the real universe is.

From there, Mr. Krauss continued his condescending attitude towards Christianity and Dr. Lennox speaking over Dr. Lennox whenever possible (with moments of pretense where he tried to make certain it was okay to speak after being politely chastised for speaking over Dr. Lennox). Despite the Justin Brierly’s efforts to keep the conversation more of a discussion than a debate, Krauss was normally quite rude. He also made outrageous statements like “religion and faith are the enemy of knowledge.”

What caught my attention during the conversation is when Mr. Krauss contended that Christians are “arrogant” because they believe that the universe was created for them. Specifically, the conversation (of sorts) progressed with:

Lennox: Well, I think that remarkable quality of it, that we find ourselves to be persons being capable of purposes, is very consistent with the idea that behind this universe there is an intelligent God who has purposed it in the sense that he’s caused it to be and that the whole thing exists in order for us to explore the very universe we find ourselves in. And also, Lawrence asks me what its highest purpose is; its highest purpose is that we in the end should not only do science but be able to have a relationship with the God that created it all. Now, that seems to me to be perfectly consistent…. 
Krauss (interrupting, as usual): It seems to me to be incredibly arrogant to assume that God created the universe for us. Moreover, to argue that it is…
Lennox: Why is it arrogant?
Krauss (continuing): … in the sense that God is very, very inefficient that he had to create a hundred billion galaxies just so we can exist.

Later, the host, Justin Brierly, revisited the issue. After playing a cut from the DVD being released by Krauss, he asked the following to Dr. Lennox:

Brierly: When you look at the massive size of the universe, we are a tiny little pale blue dot (as Carl Sagan put it, I think) on the edge of the Milky Way, isn’t it incredibly arrogant to believe that God all of this is here because we were purposed by God?
Lennox: It would be if we had no direction as to the fact that that is the case. Let me first take the scientific side. That if it is necessary to have all this great size and great length of time to produce human beings on a planet, the only group of beings that we know that can actually do science and be aware of this wonderful cosmic environment which we are, then that in itself to my mind would be an indicator of how important we are if it takes all this. But of course, Justin, I have another source of information. And I take seriously….Lawrence said at the beginning that all religions are inconsistent with science, I think that is a sweeping assertion that is false in the Christian case.

Krauss interrupted Lennox (as usual) and a short conversation occurred between the two regarding Jonah and miracles. But then Lennox continued:

Lennox: …I’m not surprised that [God] has revealed something about Himself and what he has revealed is that human beings are unique, they’re made in his image. And that gives them an infinite value. I am not impressed by arguments that say size, time and so on are measures of value. We value some things that are extremely tiny and extremely small. A diamond is much smaller than a lump of coal, but I think people tend to value diamonds more. So, the question is do we have any information as to the status of our universe and I believe that the status as revealed in the Bible is that the universe has been created as a home for human beings made in God’s image. And that changes the whole scene for me and I see nothing in science that’s inconsistent with that.
Krauss: First of all, so therefore, you’re assuming that there’s not life elsewhere in the universe (continues unintelligibly)?
Lennox: No, I’m not assuming that at all. False,
Krauss: …That are not in the image of your God or whichever god that happens to be.
Lennox: False deduction
Krauss: Okay, So, God, then, as you would put It, created the universe for all life forms. Is that a more sensible statement than the one you made about humans?
Lennox: No it isn’t a more sensible statement. We are ignorant about other life forms. I’m as ignorant as you are. We are told….
Krauss: Are they just an accessory?  Are they just an accessory and really we’re at the heart of it and they’re just happen to be innocent bystanders or did God create the universe of them to?
Lennox: Well, clearly… let me just go back to the Christian position which is that this is not necessarily the only world there is and there are beings other than humans, there are angel and so on…
Krauss: Let’s forget about angels. Let’s say there are intelligent life forms elsewhere in the universe….
Lennox: Yes, about which we know nothing, so I can make no judgment…
Krauss: But, okay, that’s right. But I just ask the question. So, if we discovered intelligent life would that mean that you’d give up your belief or that God created the universe for those people as well…those being as well?
Lennox: I would not be give up my belief, I would be fascinated.
Krauss: that’s the problem. You wouldn’t give up your belief in spite of any evidence. That’s the whole problem.

The argument is not new or unique to Krauss. I have heard it before in many forms. The idea that the Christian position is somehow arrogant is reflected in the two parts above. It is either that the universe is so incredibly large that it seems impossible that God would create all of the stars, planets, galaxies, quasars and whatnot merely to put man on a little planet in a little solar system in the outskirts of a galaxy that isn’t even that impressive of a galaxy (all things considered). To believe that all of this immensity was created just for us seems to be putting an importance on human beings that is unjustified. The alternate argument, also visited by Krauss in the debate, is that with a universe so large, there must be millions if not billions of other species out there. How can Christians claim that we are the center of God’s creation? Isn’t that a little arrogant?

Did God create the universe for humanity?

Note the phrasing used by Krauss: “It seems to me to be incredibly arrogant to assume that God created the universe for us.” But is that the fact? Since Krauss is arguing with a Christian (Dr. Lennox), and the Christian’s source for information about God comes through his revealed Word (the Bible), the first question one must ask is whether the Bible says that God created the universe for humanity?

Well, the Bible certainly says in many places that God created everything. For example, John 1:3 clearly states, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” That seems pretty broad and most people would understand that to be a claim that God is the creator of everything including the universe and man. More specifically with respect to the universe, Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” So, it seems clear God created the universe in the Christian teaching.

But did God create the universe solely for humanity? With respect to this question, Colossians 1:16 is instructive: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” You see, the Bible doesn’t directly say that God created the universe for man, rather, God created the universe for Himself and His own ends. Later, after the creation, Genesis 1:26 tells us that God chose to give man dominion over the earth.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Note that the verse refers to things of the earth. In fact, nowhere in the Bible does God give man dominion over the universe. But even if it did, that does not mean that God created the universe for us as Krauss alleges.

So, when a skeptic argues that it is arrogant to say that God created the universe for us, my first response is that God didn’t create the universe for man, He created the universe for himself. If the skeptic has a verse that shows to the contrary, I’d like to see it. In other words, the atheist argument starts with a false assumption.

Distinguishing the Anthropic Principle

Now, I have heard some Christian pastors make the point that God created the entire universe in such a way that it is perfectly suited for humanity. Dr. Hugh Ross at Reasons to Believe ( uses this tool a lot. And he certainly is correct that the universe does seem designed in a way that allows for life. This is the basis of the Anthropic Principle. (  In fact, as Dr. Ross states it,

The anthropic principle says that the universe appears "designed" for the sake of human life. More than a century of astronomy and physics research yields this unexpected observation: the emergence of humans and human civilization requires physical constants, laws, and properties that fall within certain narrow ranges—and this truth applies not only to the cosmos as a whole but also to the galaxy, planetary system, and planet humans occupy. To state the principle more dramatically, a preponderance of physical evidence points to humanity as the central theme of the cosmos.

And it seems equally clear that evidence suggests that our planet has been put in just the right place to allow life to arise. One can find more about the evidence by watching the video The Privileged Planet ( This video is not the only source for this type of information, but it is a good and entertaining source.

So, am I saying that I disagree with either the idea that the universe seems designed for humanity or that the earth seems to be in a place that seems especially suited to life or am I saying that these ideas are somehow unbiblical? No, not at all. What I am saying is that it is incorrect to say that God created the universe for humanity. He didn’t. He created it for His own purposes and His own glory. But the creation of human beings constitute an important (to God) part of that purpose, so God created the universe in a particular way so that humanity could live and be part of the universe. It was not only or primarily for us, but we are part of the plan.

Is humanity the main point of creation?

So, to give Krauss (and others who hold his view) a fair shake, I will revise his statement to be consistent with the Biblical teaching: “It seems to me to be incredibly arrogant to assume that God created the universe mainly to be suitable for humanity.” But, again, I don’t think that’s quite right either.

Certainly, the Bible says that we have been placed on this earth as the pinnacle of creation. But is that all creation or just the creation on Earth? You see, the word “creation” can be referent to the entirety of creation (the universe) or to just the Earth. Take for example Mark 16:15: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Here, the word “creation” seems limited to the Earth because the Apostles have no way to go to any place but places on the planet Earth (the world) to preach the Gospel (even if other beings exist out there in the cosmos). Now, I suppose it’s possible that we could someday develop interstellar vehicles which would allow humanity to go out into the universe to find life on other planets to whom we can preach God’s Gospel, but until we know that such other life forms exist, to suggest that verse means we’re suppose to go preach to the Romulans, Klingons or the Vulcans is science fiction which isn’t what the Bible addresses. (Of course, I need to be careful because another of the races mentioned in Star Trek is the Cardassians which is awfully close to the Kardashians who we know exist even if we have little reason to believe they are from another planet.)

So, is it right to say that the universe was created “mainly to be suitable for humanity”? I think that it would be fairer to say that the universe was created in a way that one of its purposes was to be suitable for humanity. God may have had many purposes behind creating the universe of which we are totally unaware because the Bible does not list all of the reasons God may have had for creating the universe, and science (at least based upon present knowledge and capacity) cannot give us further information as to what those purposes might be. So, tearing down my own alternative statement, I don’t believe it is correct to say that God “created the universe mainly to be suitable for humanity.”

How is that arrogant?

So, that leaves us with the most accurate statement from the Christian point of view:  “It seems to me to be incredibly arrogant to assume that God created the universe with one purpose being to create it in a way to be suitable for humanity.” That’s actually a pretty weak claim of arrogance (i.e., claiming to be one of many possible purposes behind God’s activities), but let’s go with taking a closer look as to whether this is really arrogant.
First, let’s define what arrogant means. I have posted the dictionary definition above. 

There are two senses in which a person can be arrogant. First, a person can be arrogant in their claims. Second, a person can be arrogant in how they treat others, i.e., arrogant in their attitude. The first can be depicted by thinking about a person who claims to be one of the five best basketball players in the world. Such a person would probably be considered arrogant if the only place he or she played basketball was on the school playground in pick-up games. Sure, he/she can out-play other pick-up game players, but why should anyone believe that he/she is all that good when he/she isn’t playing at the highest level? But, if the person making that audacious claim were LeBron James or Keven Durant, the claim to be one of the best has been proven out by playing as one of the best players in the best leagues in the world. In such a case, the claim itself isn’t arrogant – it’s true.

So, let’s accept (since it’s obviously true) that the universe is tremendously big – bigger than most of us can imagine. Does that mean that it is arrogant to believe that God created it with at least one of the purposes being the creation and home for humanity? Well, it would be if this were simply what humanity was saying about itself. That would be pretty self-important and therefore arrogant. But if it is the creator of the universe who says that He made it for humanity, than it isn’t arrogant at all. It is a simple statement of fact. That, of course, is exactly what the Christian is claiming – God is the one who said that he created the universe and put man here as the pinnacle of his creation on earth. That’s not arrogant, that repeating what is true according to God’s divine Word.

Are Christians saying it as though humanity is better than any other possible race that may exist out there? I don’t get that sense. Of course, we don’t know if any other alien races exist so it is hard to get a feel for whether there is a claim to superiority over other possible life. But absent some statement by a Christian that God has said we are superior to all other life that may exist outside of the earth and that God created the universe only for us, this isn’t an arrogant claim in the sense that Christians have an arrogant attitude.

Who’s really arrogant?

But when I listen to Krauss and his arguments, I believe that the person who is really arrogant here is Krauss (and others like him). Let’s grant that he is a relatively intelligent individual who is well-versed in his particular science field (even if he isn’t particularly well-versed in religion). What he is essentially saying is that his view of science which, by definition, is only the study of created things, leads him to know that God, who isn’t a created thing, does not exist. And moreover, it leads him to believe that Christians are being arrogant to say that God created the universe with them in mind. And he knows this…how? Isn’t that a claim to superior knowledge or self-importance to believe that he and his fellow “brights” (another overworked, inaccurate use of the English language) somehow know either that God doesn’t exist or what is in God’s mind.

To me, that’s the arrogance.

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