Creationist Wisdom #892: Historic Validation

This one is a column, but we’ll add it to our letter-to-the-editor collection. It appears in The Salem News of Salem, Missouri, population 4,950. They have a comments feature, but there aren’t any comments yet. Their headline is Historical validation for the Old and New Testaments.

Unless the writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today’s column was written by Tom Romer. At the end we’re told: “Tom Romer, former CEO of Romer Labs, is a world-renowned expert in the field of mold toxin testing in food products.” They say he’s “world-renowned,” so Tom qualifies for full name treatment. We’ll give you some excerpts from his column, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!

Earlier articles revealed how biological evolution is a historical narrative [It’s what?] that lacks the “in-between” fossil evidence that Darwin claimed would be discovered. [Ah yes, the missing links.] The Big Bang theory also lacks evidence that it really happened. [Wowie — no evidence!] No humans were around to testify that either biological evolution or the Big Bang were historical events.

Egad — Tom has found the fatal flaw in both theories — the lack of human witnesses. He says:

The Bible, however, is a written document, not just a theory about the past. [A written document!] Like most ancient documents, original copies of the Bible are not available due to disintegration over time. We only have copies of most ancient documents. But how do we know that the copies are true replicas of the original documents?

Yeah, how do we know? Tom tells us:

Historians of ancient literature have developed tests to determine how well copies correspond to the original documents. The main test is called the Bibliographic test. There are two factors in the Bibliographic tests: 1. How many copies of the original document are currently available? 2. How many years passed between the time when the original document was written and when the copies were made? The more copies available and the shorter the time span between when the original document was written and when the copy was made, the better the historical validity is.

That’s neat. Hey — there are first editions of The Lord of the Rings readily available, so Tom would conclude that it’s really historically valid. And a quick Google search located first editions of Mother Goose, so that’s historically valid too. He continues:

There are 5,656 copies of all or parts of the Greek New Testament, which were written between 50 and 225 years after the events happened. Because of this, the New Testament is the most historically validated ancient document. In second place is Homer’s Iliad, of which there are only 643 copies, written 400 years after Homer wrote this story.

Actually, the Epic of Gilgamesh is even more “historically validated,” because there are surviving tablets that tell the tale from at least ten centuries BC. Anyway, let’s read on:

There are only 10 copies of the history of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, which were written 900 years after these wars occurred. There is more evidence that Jesus Christ was born, crucified, and rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived.

Yeah, phooey on Caesar! No historical validation. Another excerpt:

The Old Testament is historically validated in a different manner. [Ooooooooooooh!] The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 provided evidence that Masoretic copies of the Old Testament made in 916 A.D. were almost identical to Dead Sea Old Testament scrolls dated 125 B.C., 1000 years earlier. Thus, both the Old and the New Testaments are historically validated.

That’s nice, but it doesn’t come close to the “historic validity” of the Epic of Gilgamesh. And now we come to the end:

Compare this validation to that of biological evolution and Big Bang cosmology, both of which have no written documents to support them and no real evidence that either really occurred.

Okay, dear reader. You’ve seen Tom’s argument. What do you make of it?

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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35 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #892: Historic Validation

  1. As far as I remember it, from having had to read and translate great chunks of Julius Caesar’s De Bello Gallico at school, the books are a first-hand account of the author’s own doings. So I wonder where our friend gets his 900-year gap from. Perhaps JC lived to be over 900, like Noah.

  2. The Book of Genesis does not claim to be a first-person account of the events.
    Take a look at the Wikipedia article on the Book of Jeremiah, as far as the Masoretic text is concerned. it may be from the 9th century CE.
    As far as I know, there is no copy of the Book of Esther in the Dead Sea Scrolls, so the earliest exemplar of the Masoretic text is
    The olkdest surviving texts are those of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
    Then there are the Edicts of Asoka (India), from the 3rd century BCE.

  3. Sorry, major mistake. I meant to say that the earliest Masorteic text of Esther (not Jeremiah) may be from the 9th century CE.

  4. Arcy says: ” I wonder where our friend gets his 900-year gap from.”

    Apparently, original copies didn’t survive. But it was endlessly copied and referred to. I also had to translate it in high school.

  5. Michael Fugate

    Is Romer saying the Iliad is true, then? The Greek Gods are real?

  6. Ross Cameron

    Ah, the numbers validation. ‘We have more than you therefore ours is true’ method. You`d think an almighty would provide better protection to the autographs than have his word deteriorate with time. But I guess having to listen to all those prayers flooding up might take up all your time.

  7. That’s what I got out of it.

  8. [Romer:] “There is more evidence that Jesus Christ was born, crucified, and rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived.”

    Statues, paintings, and other icons of Jesus far outnumbered the statues of Caius Iulius Caesar. And all those documents are made from the original model for sure. And with about 3 tons of twigs from the Real Cross in reliquaries around the world, how to doubt that his Crucifixion happened?

  9. As I recall from a college Old Testament course, the early books, particularly Genesis, combine various priestly traditions (thus two creation conflicting stories) and contain obvious edits by scribes for perhaps political in addition to religious reasons. I’m sure scholarship has advanced considerably in the intervening 50+ years, but clearly the OT can hardly be an accurate history of anything. So much lacks independent, contemporary corroboration. Same is true for jesus, for whom there is no independent evidence he lived, while there’s plenty that Julius Caesar did. It would be far more believable had god inscribed a black monolith.

  10. Gwyllm Griffiths

    “More copies” does not equate to “more evidence.”

  11. It’s cute when apologists like Tom get all historically minded, and persuade themselves they’re being scrupulous and scholarly.

    The subtext of what they’re saying basically boils down to: Here’s my faith, which is the best thing ever! The best, Jerry! The best!

    Only, it’s clearly not enough on its own, so I need you all to pretend that my faith has a scientific and historical basis, too, otherwise you might not believe everything I say!

    Tom doesn’t understand: it’s irrelevant whether there’s supposedly more “evidence” for his J.C. than for Roman J.C., because no-one now claims divine status for Caesar, or maintains that he went around performing miracles.

  12. @ChrisS
    A point well made.
    Less obvious is that Romer’s letter is actually an advertorial. Romer runs “seminars on the interplay between scientific inquiry and Biblical truth”.

  13. Michael Fugate

    Romer has a book
    https://www.amazon.com/Interpreting-Genesis-whats-science-got/dp/0578134217

    This book shows how forcing evolutionary ideas into Genesis is neither scientific nor biblical. Theistic Evolutionists and Old-earth Creationists accept the evolutionists’ belief that ape-men lived and died before Adam’s sin. In order to support this belief biblically, they claim that Adam’s sin resulted in his spiritual death, not his physical death. This claim contradicts statements in both the book of Romans and the book of First Corinthians. Scientific evidence is given both support an earth that is less than 10,000 years old and to disprove the theory that the earth is millions of years old. Testimonies from several world-renowned Hebrew scholars is given that state that the intention of the author of Genesis was to describe a creation of the universe that took place a few thousand years ago, a global Flood and a sudden multiplication of languages.

  14. Our dear SC is stunned: “It’s what?”
    This is correct. Evolution is part of the story from Big Bang to you writing your blogposts. It’s the part that tells how unicellurar organisms turned into Homo Sapiens (and other species).
    Tommie nicely forgets that there are lots of witnesses who tell that almost galaxies move away from each other and also quite a rew who tell about cosmic background radiation.

    “The main test is called the Bibliographic test.”
    Which Tommie sucked out of his own or someone else’s big fat thumb.It’s called the Lachmann Method or stemmatics, which btw has more than one similarity with Evolution Theory. It’s a method that approaches what’s in the original document. It says exactly zilch about the question whether what’s in that original method is correct or incorrect. Unfortunately way too many atheists don’t get this either and hence totally superfluously argue against the historical validity of the Bible. To make it worse: historical validity doesn’t mean what Tommie (and in his trail our dear SC) thinks what it means either.

    https://ehkern.com/2013/06/20/historical-truth-vs-historical-validity/

    “Historical validity is based in the historian’s interpretation of extant written texts through the application of tools and methods developed by professional historians and by interpreting the texts in relation to other texts. Depending on the results of this type of textual analysis, historical validity, and consequently the knowledge of the past, is subject to change.”
    It specifically does not mean that our Universe was created in six days just because Genesis says so and we own the original document. Always trust a creationist to distort what science actually claims.

  15. @Scientist: “the OT can hardly be an accurate history of anything”
    Like any other document written in that period and well after it. Our obsession with separating fact from fiction is quite recent.

    @GG: “More copies” does not equate to “more evidence.”
    Yes, it does – it is more evidence of what the original contained, especially when there are copy errors. They are for stemmatics what mutations are for evolution.

    @MichaelF: something which unbelievers should welcome, because that false dilemma increases the probability that christians will lose their faith and decreases the probability that they will go to a non-literal, non-fundamentalist denomination. However when staunch atheists like me subscribe to that false dilemma the consequence may be counterproductive. Fortunately nobody here makes that mistake.

  16. Almost forgot: Tommie the deaf, dumb and blind guy is also guilty of the popular fallacy “Jesus was a historical character hence divine.”

  17. No matter how much we can be sure that the authors and the audience for Genesis 1 thought about the Sun and the Moon first appearing in the firmament after there were trees on Earth bearing fruit, that isn’t so.
    I don’t have to claim expertise in ancient philology or any science. And I am aware of my fallibility. I might as well consider the possibility that I am not
    speaking English.

  18. Yesterday I saw a unicorn

  19. The text showing that yesterday I saw a unicorn has by now been duplicated, within seconds, by a highly accurate method, on millions of servers worldwide. So it must be true.

  20. Unlike the OT, of which we have two versions, the Masoretic and the Septuagint, with serious discrepancies between them. If we accept historical validation, we must also accept historical INvalidation.

    I would have wanted to post this final comment in the newspaper, but cannot access it from the EU for legal reasons. Perhaps someone else can for me? we really should be out there talking to people who don’t necessarily already agree with us

  21. Or perhaps, for the newspaper, just this: An accurate text does not mean that the text is accurate. We have well-validated copies of Shakespeare, but that does not make Hamlet into a historical character.

  22. I am wholly convinced by Tom Romer’s irrefutable argument about historical validation!

    But now I’m facing a real dilemma! By Romer’s compelling yardstick, there is more ‘historical validation’ for The Book of Mormon than there is for the Bible–but there is even more ‘historical validation’ for the existence of L. Ron Hubbard than for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young combined! I suppose I better start donating to the Scientologists…

    …No, wait! Nothing has better historical validation than Bobby Henderson and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! It’s Pastafarianism for me, all the way!

    Ramen!

  23. Indeed, the Mormon scriptures, like the Book of Mormon and the Pearl or Great Price, and the Adventist scriptures by Ellen White have better historical validation. I’m sure Tom Romer is reading them for spiritual guidance at this moment. What, he isn’t?

  24. There are arguments by creationists which I just can’t understand. After 20 some years, I think that I now get the o of “how come there are still monkeys.”
    But must admit that the argument from the large number of copies still makes no sense at all to me.
    I have the feeling that it is simply a matter of taking pride in something distinctive about one’s group.

  25. @Megalonyx, @PaulD. Right on! And, just like the OT and NT originals, Joseph Smith lost the originals to his fiction.

    In Genetics, if all of one species has the sequence AACCTTGG and all of a related species has AAACTTGG, there is no telling which sequence was ancestral. All we know is that one is likely original, the other contains a mutation. By comparing sequences from more organisms, an inference with greater likelihood (probability) of being correct can be made. But, it is just that: a guess, with a probability associated with it. The number of copies is largely irrelevant. Similar with texts. By the way, with today’s tools a geneticist can synthesize the hypothetical ancestral gene and introduce it into a host organism to see if it works. Even if it does work, that isn’t proof that the synthesized gene is actually the same as the ancestral one.

  26. @MichaelFugate: Regarding Romer’s book, there is a delicious irony in the fact that there is, on the other side of the globe, another Thomas Römer. This version is however an academic at the Collège de France, specialises in the “Hebrew Bible and its contexts”, appears to have several books to his name, published by reputable and respectable houses.
    What are the odds!

  27. Tom Romer’s “scholarship” is exceptionally questionable since Henry Morris (the inventor of the scientific creationism oxymoron) made those exact same “the resurrection of Jesus is the most historically accurate fact in history” arguments multiple decades ago. Me thinks that he is merely copying what was written in a Morris book. Creationists commonly copy each other’s arguments since they are so utterly clueless. Morris stole a lot of his arguments from the earlier creationist George McCready Price.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_McCready_Price

    Alternatively, Romer’s brain has been eaten by mold and replaced with brain slugs.

  28. @tedinoz
    For example, see this recent book – translated from the French –
    The Invention of God
    Thomas Römer
    Harvard University Press, 2015
    It is how Yaweh became the only god. Probably not welcome in copnservative Christian circles.

  29. Mark Germano

    Hey, did everybody hear that Paul Braterman saw a unicorn? It’s become the most validated fact of the modern age.

  30. The Old Testament is historically validated in a different manner. [Ooooooooooooh!] The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 provided evidence that Masoretic copies of the Old Testament made in 916 A.D. were almost identical to Dead Sea Old Testament scrolls dated 125 B.C., 1000 years earlier. Thus, both the Old and the New Testaments are historically validated.

    Well, yes and no. The texts were “validated” in the sense that they (more or less) agree. The events they describe, including Creation and the Flood, weren’t validated in the sense of having been shown to have actually occurred. A myth handed down unchanged over centuries remains a myth.
    And aren’t all good creationists supposed to sneer at “historical science” anyway?

    Compare this validation to that of biological evolution and Big Bang cosmology, both of which have no written documents to support them and no real evidence that either really occurred.

    Well, who’d have written those documents? As for “real evidence,” we have plenty; it’s just that creationists refuse to recognize it as such because it contradicts the Bible.

  31. Their claim about the Bible. As to what the Bible says, it has nothing to say about evolution, and that includes nothing about a difference between macro- and microevolution. The Bible has only the vocabulary of the Ancient Near East.

  32. @<strong — Done.

    (I fiddled with it a bit.)

    “.
    Paul Braterman: ‘An accurate text does not mean that the text is [true]. We have well-validated copies of Shakespeare, but that does not make Hamlet into a historical character.’

    More at http://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/
    .”

  33. @Paul Braterman — the immediately preceding comment was meant to be addressed to you, except that I omitted your name in the salutation.

  34. @Paul Braterman — You got it, Prof.

    Apologies if I mangled your message (I dumbed it down, heh heh (ahem)).

    Check my comments on subsequent SC posts.