Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lee Strobel and contradictory eyewitness testimony

In his book The Case for Christ Lee Strobel compares the techniques used in criminal cases to resolve the veracity of alleged events with how we can do the same for the events described in the Bible. One of the running themes throughout the book is how, for example, eyewitness testimony has been crucial in many criminal cases to convict the perpetrators. This way he tries to give credence to the (alleged) eyewitness testimony documented in the Bible.

This comparison, however, fails on many points. One specific point, closely related to this theme, where this completely fails is that Strobel completely ignores the significance of contradictory testimony.

There's a reason why police, when interrogating suspects who might have collaborated in perpetrating a crime, will keep them separate: So that they won't get their story straight. In other words, if the suspects give contradictory statements, that will be a strong indication that they are lying.

At the very least, contradictory testimony puts the trustworthiness of all the testimony into question.

Many of the events in the gospels that Strobel tries to justify via eyewitness testimony is actually contradictory between the gospels. For example the events of what happened when the women went to Jesus' tomb are contradictory in all the gospels.

If we follow Strobel's rationale regarding eyewitness testimony, what this tells us is that the whole story is suspect and not very trustworthy. Most certainly a very weak case.

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