Last year, Truth in the Trenches published a sermon on Luke 2 and “How Atheists get Christmas wrong.” For this article, I want to focus only on Luke 2:2 and follow up with the reason that they get Christmas wrong. Atheistic claims about Luke 2:2 are not obscure, nor are they only found in older sources. Richard Dawkins discusses this point, for example in his major work, The God Delusion. In review, Luke 2:2 is usually mistranslated. The Greek term “Protos” is better translated “before” rather than “first,” John 1:15 is usually translated this way, when it states “Because he was before me…” (http://apologiafides.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/luke-and-quirinius/)
So why don’t atheistic writers know about the problem with their translation? The answer is simply that they don’t spend the time necessary to find the answer to the question. Dawkins will remain our example. The chief criticism of the “The God Delusion” is that Dawkins has not performed the requisite reading or research to write a book of this sort; yet it has been published, regardless. Dawkins largely dismisses that charge by stating that he only needs to read the work of those theists and Christians who have taken the question of God’s existence seriously – yet he has not even performed the requisite research to fulfill this criteria. His citation of Luke 2:2 as an error in the Bible is evidence, if not proof of this point. After all, this type of information has been documented in works by Christian apologists for decades. Presumably, Dawkin’s work was peer reviewed or edited by other atheists (or if it was not, his credentials suggest that he should know about the necessity of peer review). Not only did Dawkins not find the problem with his exegesis on this point, but his reviewers also missed the point. Nor is this an isolated instance, Dawkins’ discussions of CS Lewis’ famous argument, or his assertion that the Nazi’s were Christian, etc. are similarly troubled. It is not simply a matter that a lack of serious work underlies this particular item in the atheist arsenal, but that a lack of research is a major part of the all of the atheistic arsenal. Atheists, in short, get Christmas – and much else – wrong because when they write about the Bible and about Christians, they cannot be bothered to perform the requisite work. Atheists often claim to be smarter and more erudite than Christians and other theists, but this is mere propaganda.
If there is a flaw among Christians when it comes to answering the allegations of the ignorant, perhaps it comes down to accessibility. I learned this fact from Nigel Turner’s work, and few atheists read Greek grammarians. Dawkins cannot be excused. In writing a book, he takes on the responsibility to be thorough in his research. But what about those who would rather read a thirteen dollar paperback book written by Dawkins rather than a library worth hundreds or thousands of dollars? As Christians, then, let us all seek to be better prepared to defend and advance the cause of His truth.