…But if someone has found Jesus’ bones in a coffin with his own name on it- and in Jerusalem, the Skeptic’s should be happy, right? This would actually confirm what they’ve believed all along. Now new “evidence” has just emerged, allegedly revealing that Jesus did not resurrect from his tomb and Skeptic’s are actually skeptical of this evidence? Why?
Well, unlike the misconception that many people have about skeptics, skeptics don’t simply disbelieve everything they hear (like the title skeptic somewhat implies). They care about and put their trust in good science. If they will demand scientific evidence for something contrary their beliefs (like most of us naturally do) they also demand good scientific evidence for something confirming their beliefs as well- as in this case. Damn their intellectual honesty and desire to promote good science!
The story of Jesus’ “found tomb”:
Earlier this week executive producer James Cameron (director of Titanic) and director Simcha Jacobovici announced that they believe they have discovered the tomb of Jesus and his family. The tomb was originally discovered 25 years ago in Talpiot Jerusalem. Ten ossuaries, or bone boxes, were discovered in the tomb. The ossuaries contain the following names: “Jesus son of Joseph,” “Maria,” “Mariamene e Mara,” “Matthew,” “Yose” and “Judah son of Jesus.” Cameron claims that he and his researchers have “done their homework,” and now they will present their compelling evidence in a new film documentary.
From Time Magazine:
Israel’s prominent archeologist Professor Amos Kloner didn’t associate the crypt with the New Testament Jesus. His father, after all, was a humble carpenter who couldn’t afford a luxury crypt for his family. And all were common Jewish names.
There was also this little inconvenience that a few miles away, in the old city of Jerusalem, Christians for centuries had been worshipping the empty tomb of Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Christ’s resurrection, after all, is the main foundation of the faith, proof that a boy born to a carpenter’s wife in a manger is the Son of God.
But film-makers Cameron and Jacobovici claim to have amassed evidence through DNA tests, archeological evidence and Biblical studies, that the 10 coffins belong to Jesus and his family.
One of the caskets even bears the title, “Judah, son of Jesus,” hinting that Jesus may have had a son. And the very fact that Jesus had an ossuary would contradict the Christian belief that he was resurrected and ascended to heaven.
Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem who was interviewed in the documentary, said the film’s hypothesis holds little weight.
“I don’t think that Christians are going to buy into this,” Pfann said. “But skeptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear.”
Not good skeptics who are into promoting good science, Pfann!
From Steven Novella’s Blog (a Neoroscientist and Skeptic- you should read this full article to how the scientific community traditionally deals with new claims and evidence like in this case!):
I don’t want to go over the details of the archaeological claims on this blog. For a discussion of the details listen to the next episode of the Skeptics Guide where we discuss it with archaeologist Kenny Feder. I do want to discuss Cameron’s decision to present the evidence in the manner he did – as a film documentary.
Traditionally new scientific evidence is presented to the scientific community either as a meeting presentation […] or as a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. There is a reason for this tradition – it provides an opportunity for a large number of experts, with a variety of opinions, knowledge, and ideas, to pick over the claims and look for flaws, alternative hypotheses that have not been adequately considered, contradictory evidence that has not been accounted for, or other weakness in the data. This process is messy, and often has to go through many rounds of research before all data and all points of view are accounted for reasonably. Eventually a relative consensus is achieved, at least on some points, but research is a never-ending process and so new evidence or ideas might cause the consensus to be modified or reconsidered.
Once again, read the full article by Stephen Novella to learn a little bit more about how the scientific community deals with issues like this.
To top it off with a cherry on top, here is Jon Stewart’s take on the whole deal: