“We aren’t talking about rocket science here; we are talking about the ramblings of a primitive Jew.” – Atheist on facebook – name withheld to protect the ignorant.
When you discuss the evidence supporting the New Testament Gospels as an accurate historical record (as we are reviewing with republished articles on our apologiafides site http://apologiafides.wordpress.com), you will often find an answer similar to that above: to wit, that first century Roman society was made up of people who were stupid, or primitive. But, just how primitive were they?
• Hero of Alexandria developed intricate machines using precise timing. Among other things, Hero developed the first known vending machine, the first known automatic door opener, the first animatronics, and the first operational steam engine. In fact, the Roman world almost began an industrial revolution; they likely would have crossed that threshold, if slave labor had not been so cheaply available at the time.
• For a long time, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether Newton or Leibnitz actually discovered calculus. We now know that Archimedes was using principles of calculus more than a thousand years prior to the birth of either of those men.
• The Jews, far from being primitive at the time, developed a highly and widely literate society.
In many senses, numerous moderns assume that technological and intellectual development travel in a straight line. But, this has been proven to be a false assumption. In many respects, the Renaissance was not (as it is often thought to be) a period of new discovery. It was actually a period during which European society rediscovered much that had been forgotten within the Dark Ages; often found in ancient texts.
As in all time periods, of course, the Roman world had its residents who were ignorant, However, one cannot argue that the early church was made up solely of the ignorant and superstitious.
• Luke’s gospel is written by someone who is a historian. As noted in a piece on our technical site (http://apologiafides.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/the-positive-case-for-christ-acts-1-liberals-zip/), the author of Acts and Luke was a historian of the first rank. This indicates that Luke was educated; that he had developed critical thinking skills. As a result, we cannot argue that he was merely superstitious.
• Paul is our other example. Even if we confine ourselves only to those elements of the Pauline corpus which are accepted by the theological left, it is clear that Paul is both educated, and a thinker in his own right.
Therefore, we must conclude that two of the major authors of the New Testament cannot be written off as merely superstitious ramblers. Any thoughts?