Sunday, April 22, 2012



Now that I am deeply into Darwin and the theory of evolution (link to my Darwin blog is at right), I can see how much this field has in common with New Testament scholarship. In both, scholars are more interested in creating fictions, based on their ideology, than in carefully explaining the evidence. It's worse for the NT, but Darwin scholars do it too.  I hate to be repetitive, but since this is a fresh discovery for me in the case of Darwin, I'll say something I've said more than once in my writings.  Academic scholars operate by this motto:  The less we see, the more we know.

In Darwin studies, one favorite technique is to quote him out of context.  Pick out one or two sentences and then lop off what he says next.  In NT scholarship, the favorite ploy is to meld all four Gospels into one, imputing to the others what is said in only one or two.  I'll give an example from each field.

Stephen Jay Gould, like many others, believes that randomness is central to Darwin's theory.  I cannot go into all the details here, but there is almost no evidence from Darwin to support this.  He is more against the idea of chance than for it (but of course, he was always against seeing purpose in nature, which is another matter).  Gould offers a quote from a letter to Asa Gray, American botanist. The main purpose of the letter is to express Darwin's bewilderment on the issue of chance versus design (a fact Gould neglects to mention).  The line Gould chooses to quote says that there is design in the (general) laws, but chance in the details.

Gould considers this such a wise insight.  But he fails to quote the very next sentence in the letter:  "Not that this notion at all satisfies me" (Darwin's emphasis).  Darwin was telling Gray he was not satisfied (my emphasis) with such a solution. On this point, Gould has created a fictional Darwin.

NT scholars are likewise busy creating not only a fictional historical Jesus and a fictional Judaism to serve as a foil for him, but a fictional version of the Gospels.  Bart Ehrman warns against doing this.  He calls the melding of all four Gospels into one the creation of a mega-Gospel.  But he does this himself with respect to Judas.

Ehrman alleges that all the information in the Gospels about Judas is negative and that Judas appears to be equally evil in all the Gospels.  Not so.  Ehrman actually reads from the later Gospels back into Mark.  Mark's version of Judas is pretty bland compared to that in John.  The demonization of Judas appears only in Luke and John.  The allegation of stealing from the poor is only in John.  None of the really negative things are in Mark at all.  Yet Ehrman throws Mark into this fictional mega-Gospel about Judas.

Ideology says Judas should be a traitor.  Ideology says Darwin should be something like a quantum physicist devoted to chance.  But where is the evidence?  The real Darwin and the real Gospels are much more interesting than the fictional versions of academia.

Sometimes on TV you will see someone talking about a devastating experience, about being abandoned by God. The speaker might be at a podium.  The audience is listening intently, many leaning forward, elbow on knee, chin in hand.  It is always touching to hear about that moment in someone's life when God deserted them.  And yet, and yet, God help me, I may be wrong about this, being abandoned by academia seems far worse to me.

I mean, when scholars, self-styled historians, abandon the evidence and the search for truth, and tell the most damaging lies about the historical evidence.  That scholars should have a hand in erasing people who actually lived horrifies me.  But it happens.  Every freaking day.

Leon Zitzer
copyright 2012

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?