Post Debate Thoughts On Bill Nye & Ken Ham

Last night I stayed up far later than my bedtime allows and listened to the (then already finished) live stream of the creation vs. evolution debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham.

Now I am not a scientist. Never have claimed to be in any way shape or form, my expertise on that issue falls as far as my hands can google the subjects. So on all the scientific truths, misnomers, facts, and interpretations I will leave that up to you to view and form opinions on. My passion lies in the realm of theology, apologetics, and biblical understanding.

What I do want to comment on was Bill Nye's direct opposition and attack of what he kept describing as "the English translation of the Bible." And at one point in the discussion made the comparison with the child's game broken telephone; where one person will start a phrase that is whispered into another person's ear and so on and so forth to the point where when it finally gets down the line the message ends up being something quite different.

This is a common objection, one I have heard many times in my discussions about the authority and integrity of the Bible that I hold. The problem with it is that it reveals a very strong ignorance of how translation is done. For the Bible or any other document of antiquity.

The objection is common, and it is this: "You have a translation of a translation of a translation, it has been translated so many times how do you even know that what your translation you have today even remotely resembles the original message and text?"

The problem lies in the definition of the word "translation". What most people mean when making a statement like that is in fact not "translation" but rather "transmission". For it is the case that when I pick up and look at my Greek New Testament and sit down with my lexicons (which I do often with great resolve) I am translating the pages over and over.

Every time I read a page and bring out the English meaning I am translating that Bible over and over. So in that sense yes, the Bible I possess is being translated over and over. But that is not what people mean when they make that type of statement.

What people like Bill Nye, and your typical street atheist mean when they make the statement, probably looks something in their heads like this:

Original words spoken in Aramaic --> Aramaic  translated into original Greek documents --> Greek documents compiled and translated into Latin --> Latin Bible translated into German --> German Bible translated into French --> French Bible translated into Old English --> Old English Bible translated into Modern English

This is what is called a single-line of textual transmission. When your typical atheist objector makes the broken telephone comparison, or accuses you of holding to a "translation of a translation etc." this is more often than not, exactly what they picture.

The problem? It's not true, it's pure fiction. Complete fantasy.

The manuscript record and tradition that we posses for the Bible is extensive. We have over 20 thousand manuscripts from the New Testament in many languages. Close to 6000 of which  are in the original Greek (encompassing everything from the year 100 AD to the 1600s). Not only this but we have tens of thousands of quotations from the Early Church Fathers from the 2nd and 3rd centuries; so many in fact that if we didn't have a single New Testament manuscript we could reconstruct the entire New Testament apart from 11 verses.

We have a textual transmission that starts within 100 years of Christ's death(1) that we can follow word for word through the years of Christian persecution in the Roman Empire strait to the 4rd century where the first complete and compiled Bible (Genesis to Revelation) was put together after the Peace of the Church in 312 AD(2). This textual transmission was spread out far and wide over the known world over the next 300 years, disqualifying any one group or person from holding and tampering with the words and message held within.

We have more historical and textual reliability within the pages of our modern translations of the Bible than we have for the English translations of Plato, Aristotle, Pliny, Homer, or Caesar. The Bible is the most historically validated document within all of antiquity and we can stand firm on the fact that you may or may not believe it's words as truth, but you can believe without fail that what you hold is what the original authors wrote over 2000 years ago.

So my thoughts post debate have nothing to do with science. For that I cannot comment, that is up to you as the viewer and the audience to decide and ascertain. But my thoughts post debate are that Mr. Nye showed a glaring ignorance of history when it came to attacking the Bible. He stepped into the realm of the mainstream rubbish that the uneducated secularist wades in and he showed a glowing ignorance of his knowledge on that subject.

Now I know Bill Nye is an intelligent man. But that makes it all the worse that he seemed to think it totally appropriate to use this type of shallow strawman argumentation. 

If you're going to attack a worldview, make sure you understand its foundation. If you're going to attack the credibility and reliability of that foundation, make sure you understand where it came from. Otherwise you only show your place as bigot within the eyes of the very people you are trying to persuade.

"Big-ot-ry: intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself; bigot: someone who holds an irrational, uninformed, ignorance-based opinion and will not examine the other side of the argument." - Oxford Dictionary

P-52, front and back
(1) P-52 is a papyri codex document (also known as St. Johns fragment) dated within the first 70 years after Christ's death. P-52, containing a section of John 18:31-33 in Greek, is the earliest attested manuscript for the New Testament

(2) Codex Sinaiticus is the first fully put-together Bible after Christianity was no longer declared a "religisito illicito" or illegal religion in 302 during the Peace of the Church. You can flip through and look at the very documents that make up Sinaiticus here



Popular posts from this blog

The Birmingham Qur'an Discovery and How it Impacts Islam

The Apologetics Books You Should (Already) Have on Your Bookshelf

Why The Gospels Are Embarrassing