Victor Stenger and historical evidence

(Juan Romero) #1

In his article Testing the God Hypothesis, Victor Stenger says something interesting together with other things:

“Physical and historical evidence might have been found for the miraculous events and the important narratives of the scriptures. For example, Roman records might have been found for an earthquake in Judea at the time of a certain crucifixion ordered by Pontius Pilate. Noah’s Ark might have been discovered. The Shroud of Turin might have contained genetic material with no Y-chromosomes. Since the image is that of a man with a beard, this would confirm he was born of a virgin. Or, the genetic material might contain a novel form of coding molecule not found in any other living organism. This would have proven an alien (if not divine) origin of the enshrouded being.”

Then, he says:

“But none of this has happened. (…) Every claim of a supernatural event has proved false. The hypothesis of God is not confirmed by the evidence. Indeed, that hypothesis is strongly contradicted by the observations of our senses and the instruments of science.”


In the light of both science and Scripture, what would you say?

(Laura) #2

I guess I just don’t buy the idea of trying to prove God (or a “god model”) scientifically. The types of evidence we can work with and observe are limited to the degree that we are limited, and supernatural things exist outside of that framework. If they didn’t, there’d be no need for faith. The fact that no physical evidence has been found (that we know of) for the specific things mentioned above has no bearing on my faith. Physical evidence isn’t found for most events that have happened in the past anyway.


Those are strangely particular events to pick on. The Romans recorded almost none of their major earthquakes, Noah’s ark is part of the allegorical primeval history of Genesis (which is ch.1-11) meaning it obviously wouldn’t exist to begin with, and the Shroud is probably a fake anyways.

On the other hand, I am aware of one recent paper published into the International Geology Review that appears to have confirmed of some 7.1 magnitude earthquake c. 26-36 AD, and this happens to revolve around the area where Jesus was crucified. Would this “show” Stenger that a miracle has been “proved”, or would he retain atheism after seeing this finding even though it looks like one of his criterion for “proving a miracle” is an earthquake during the crucifixion? Or will he pick about the 26-36 AD date range? Who knows, I’ve seen it all.

I suppose that continuous discussion regarding science and scripture will continue, hopefully despite the noise on both sides of the debate (Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, Stenger, Ham, Hovind, etc).

(Juan Romero) #4

We will never know. Vic died 3 years ago.

That’s a fact.


He died ! I can’t believe I didn’t hear about this til now. Apparently he had an aneurysm. Even i feel sad, i am here reminded “do not rejoice when your enemy falls” (proverbs 24:17). A lot of atheists seem to be dying nowadays. Maurice Casey, Hitchens, and now I find Stenger joined the pack. It’s possible that the old atheistic and secular era is coming to a close, boy did they dominate for a long time. Dawkins is getting old himself. I wonder what the future holds.

(Juan Romero) #6

I feel the exact same way.

Well, God knows what He does.

For about 200 years.

He is 70-something. Good old man James Randi is like 89.

Only God knows.

(Jim Lock) #7

@archicastor1 I would say that History as a disciple is murky at best. Primary sources are riddled with bias, propaganda, and perfectly factual information. Archeology yields only the briefest and most general of glimpses. There is no perfectly understood historical event, person, or place. Yet, lack of a perfect historical record is no basis for outright dismissal.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #8

It seems that he missed evidence for the Creation, the nation of Israel/Judea, and the founding of the Church, which are some important events.

(system) #9

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