Monday, 10 November 2008
Liar, Lunatic, or Lord...or Something Else?
How often do you hear the apologetic refrain that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or lord? The idea goes that either one must say that Jesus was a con-artist, mentally deranged, or one has to admit that Jesus was the son of god, etc. Unfortunately for the apologist, this is a poor argument in quite a few ways.
First, the argument assumes that what the Bible reports about Jesus is true. We have no reason to believe that, however. The evidence is scant that a person named Jesus existed to begin with, and even if we grant that, there's no evidence to suggest that the Bible is accurate about what he said or did. We know that the accounts were written well after the time period in question by people who were not there to witness the goings-on, which is fatal to the argument.
Second, the argument relies on an emotional response from the one being questioned. People don't like to accuse others of being liars, nor do they like to make pronouncements about the sanity of others, so the question is rigged to play on these emotions and present the third option as more comfortable. This pushes the one being questioned towards that answer due to their human emotions, not their reason or intellect.
Which leads to a third problem, which is that there aren't only 3 choices to this dilemma. It's quite possible that if Jesus did exist and claim to be the son of god, that he might have simply been mistaken or himself misled. There's no reason to rule out those possibilities if we assume that the story is historically accurate. It's just another example of bad apologetics.