Saturday, December 16, 2006

Too Improbable Not to be True

I was watching 48 Hours on CBS tonight and saw an interesting show "The Mystery of Christmas" which was basically a skeptic vs believer discussion on the reliability of the Gospel accounts and the literalness of the virgin birth and other associated aspects of the story.

One guy who was interviewed, Ben Witherington, is an evangelical scholar and had this to say about the story of the virgin birth:

"You're absolutely right that, you know, if Mary goes home to Mom and Dad and says, ‘Well, I've got good news and bad news. Here’s the good news. The good news I'm going to be the mother of the Messiah. The bad news is, I'm already pregnant. But, not to worry. I'm pregnant by means of the Holy Spirit.’ And, you know, if I'm a normal parent I'm going, ‘Uh-huh’. And where was Joseph when all this was happening?’” says Witherington. “You know, of course, there's a scandalous element to the story.”

And it’s precisely because the story was a public relations problem for the early Christians that he’s convinced the Gospel authors would never have made it up.

“You don't make up a story like this if we're dealing with an evangelistic religion that wants people to believe the story,” says Witherington. “The virginal conception is too improbable not to be true.” [Source]

So, "too improbable not to be true"? Sound at all familiar?


zach said...

It's a stupid argument no matter who puts it forth. Regardless, Ben Witherington needs to learn some early Christian history starting with Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus.

CyberKitten said...

"Credo quia absurdam" - I believe because it is absurd.

At least they recognise that it *is* absurd. [chuckle].

I love it when theists say "You couldn't make this stuff up" - I just say "Erm yes, you can."

The back of the hill said...

As I heard it, six hundred thousand virgins gathered at Sinai....

Oops, wrong story.