Skepticism

Dan Cameron? No…James Brown.

James Cameron seems to be jumping on the Dan Brown bandwagon, which unfortunately, doesn’t do much to lend credibility to a-theism.

Allegedly, the talented Mr. Cameron has created a documentary that “shakes the very foundation of Christianity” by disproving the resurrection of Christ. His evidence? A family tomb discovered in Jerusalem 27 years ago, containing coffins inscribed with the names “Jesua, Joseph, Mary, and Judah”, among others. Although that combination of names resonates as biblical with us now, 2000 years ago in the middle east they were very common Jewish names. Mr. Cameron is holding a press conference on Monday where he will unveil the three coffins borrowed from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and he claims to have more evidence than the names alone. The content of his presentation will not be released prior to the press conference.

Having not seen the conference I may be speaking too soon, but I suspect this is more about publicity, attention, and money than actual evidence. Like it or not, Dan Brown popularized the Anti-Christianity debate, which is why I don’t think it’s shocking at all that Dawkins’ The God Delusion is a best seller. It’s easy, if not fashionable, to rile up the Christians these days. But Dawkins’ work is solid, based on passionate belief, not a yen for money and publicity. When unwarranted claims become mainstream controversy (a la Dan Brown), and get debunked, it only gives theists good reason to ignore us.

Let’s hope Cameron has more than empty controversy to offer. Because he’s likely to get the publicity he’s looking for.

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8 Comments

  1. Oh, damn! I was just going to post about this and you beat me to it.

    It will be interesting, at least. The summary, however, sounds just like a fictional film I saw on DVD a few months ago starring Antonio Banderes. Now I need to go look up that film and re-watch it again so I can compare the details to Cameron's documentary.

    Donna

  2. He's amassed "DNA evidence", he claims. DNA evidence is useless for indentification unless you have a known sample from a proven relative, preferably a close one. That means they either need many samples of known descendants of Mary, or DNA known to be from either Mary or God.

    Anyone want to bet that he has that, cause I would love to take the other side of that bet, and I'll offer very long odds.

  3. Considering that the other half of this fiasco is the (in)famous Simcha Jocobivici (of the pairs Exodus Decoded), this is pure schlock tv. With all the distortions, half-truths, and outright lies in their first mocumentary, expect this one to be of similar vein. To push someone else's blog, Chris Heard at Haggion has an excellent debunking of the Exodus tripe (http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?p=60).

    If they get DNA evidence from that "Priory of Sion" guy, that'll be the real kicker.

  4. I think this is a good analysis:

    James Cameron to Terminate Christianity

    Archeologists who uncovered the tomb found no connection to Jesus other than name similarities but apparently Cameron and documentary director Simcha Jacobovici beg to differ. He and his partners have used DNA evidence and Biblical studies and plan to prove that the coffins belong to Jesus and his kin. On Monday Cameron holds a big New York press conference where he’ll reveal the coffins and stake his claim with a 90-minute documentary to be shown on Israeli television soon.

    Except the whole thing seems kind of pointless. DNA comparison only works if you have something to compare the bones to. Last I checked, no one had a Jesus hair follicle in their bathroom hair brush. Sure, someone might claim to have DNA that definitely belonged to the Christ, but there’s no way to prove it. And without absolutely proof positive Jesus DNA to compare those bones to, I don’t see how Cameron can prove anything.

    Worse, even if he can prove those are Christ’s bones, he’s still got nothing. The whole process and theology of Christ’s resurrection is pretty complicated and different religious sects have different views about exactly how it happened. James, even if you can prove those are Jesus’ remains Christianity won’t have much trouble coming up with some new theory, or perhaps resurrecting some old one, to explain it. For instance some Christian sects already believe that in the end Jesus only his spirit ascended to heaven, leaving his body behind. There’s always something you can come up with. This whole thing is a waste of time. You’re preaching to the converted.

  5. I agree: this is unlikely to challenge many people's faiths. It's unprovable, and reconcilable with Christianity's many variants even if it was proven. If nothing else, they can claim it's all some clever ruse by Satan that we unwitting athesists were duped by. It works for evolution and the Grand Canyon, after all :p "People who want to disbelieve in God will always find a way to do so," they assure each other.

    It's irritating, though, that the public believes a popular movie director over the team of archeologists who originally investigated the site (at least enough to, presumably, watch the movie to see if he has a point). It's Airborne's "made by a school teacher" claim all over again.

  6. Here it is – CNN.com says that skeptics will love the Cameron documentary:

    CNN.com Story

    "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."

    See how this makes us look bad? As if skeptics are just naysayers looking for any half-baked theory to disprove Christianity (or other woo). No decent skeptic would fail to question Mr. Cameron's documentary. I'm riled.

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