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My Christmas goodwill and patience has evaporated like a week-old pan of mulled wine left on the slow-burning hob. Infamous commenter here, See Noevo, most of the time just has no ability to see his own comments and behaviour in an objective light. He suffers very much from the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority derives from the metacognitiveinability of low-ability persons to recognize their own ineptitude; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.[1]

I have recently been discussing issues with the Nativity account claims. He retorted, in one comment:

And as long as you continue to make claims which are all so dubious, that commenter will continue to show why they are.
And your OPs can continue to feature that commenter, by quote and/or by name, as this and seven others have since July.

Of course, he never shows why they are dubious. He says something, and then conflates saying something with refuting a point. He is sadly mistaken.

He followed this with his own challenge, the sort of which he likes to throw about:

“I personally doubt Luke sat there and spun a web of lies.
But, either way, his claims are demonstrably wrong (especially if taken
together with Matthew’s).”

I think your claim is demonstrably wrong.
Let me demonstrate.
Pick your #1, favorite, conflict between Matthew and Luke’s nativity accounts. Not another 2,000 word turd of yours covering A to Z, but
just one specific (apparent) contradiction. Your strongest.

Demonstrate, so that I may demonstrate.

(Please exclude the ‘census requiring return to hometown’ bit, as I’ve already demonstrated through many exchanges with others why that cannot be ruled out.)

But I am not going to let that last point lie. I am more than happy to argue any number of Nativity issues and will happily take him up on his challenge.  However, he claimed this: “I’ve already demonstrated through many exchanges with others why that [the census] cannot be ruled out.”

To which I call bullshit. A very clear, clarion call it is too. Bull. Shit.

He has done nothing of the sort. He drew a false analogy with an Egyptian census, and that was about it.

So here is my challenge because we cannot let falsehoods lie in an opening remark to a challenge. Let’s take one thing at a time. Let’s take this as a contradiction of reality as well as a contradiction across the Gospels.

Here is my challenge in the form of statements that See has to address:

  1. A client kingdom has never been taxed directly or had such censuses in the history of the Roman Empire.
  2. When Herod was alive it was a client kingdom.
  3. When he died, his son took over for 10 years, made a mess, and Romans took back direct control.
  4. When they did, they held a census for tax reasons due to having a newly added directly ruled region.
  5. There is no example in the history of censuses in the entire world of people returning to their ancestral home.
  6. There is no need for anyone to return to their ancestral home for reasons of tax since this defeat the entire reason for having a census for tax purposes. People would necessarily move out of tax regions to other areas and so you would have no idea of the taxable value of a given region.
  7. One Egyptian census required ITINERANT/MIGRANT workers to return to their ACTUAL homes for reasons of tax pragmatism. This is in no way analogous to the Lukan census. Going back to my actual home is different to going back to where an ancestor lived 41 generations past, no matter where it was.
  8. The Lukan census required Joseph to return to his ancestral home of 41 generations past, no more, no less.
  9. This would have been impossible and utterly arbitrary for everyone to know their 41 generations past ancestors (I don’t know 3 past).
  10. This would also mean the whole of Judea could connect themselves to David.
  11. Not one single human being in the world of apologetics, or the world, has provided a reason, let alone a good one, why people should return to their ancestral homes for a tax census (let alone at 41 generations past).
  12. There would be a month where virtually no one would be able to work. Who would be looking after households as the whole country moved around to their ancestral homes? This would be economic suicide thus negating the whole point of a tax census, losing Romans valuable taxable money.
  13. Women were not required at censuses.
  14. Bethlehem is a different tax area to Nazareth.

I could go on. You get the idea.

Just answer that lot, would you? Each of them so that the Lukan account of the census is the most probable theory of claim of reality. I would like us to stay on this topic and this one alone until you show me why this claim is at all reasonable.

The thing is, no apologist has actually ever explained this satisfactorily, so he has his work cut out for him.

All this and more is discussed in my book The Nativity: A Critical Examination.


Essentially, I want to get to a place with such commenters where we can say: “Hey, look, I am not saying anything else to you until you deal completely with those points.” I don’t want to move onto other subjects and ideas and claims until we bottom this one out. Until we agree that I am wrong or he is wrong. Or, more clearly, that Luke was wrong or not, in all reasonable analysis of probability.

So: step up to the plate and do your best.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...