Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible
THE HUMANIST'S CLAIM: Matthew chapter 2 avers that shortly after the birth of Jesus, King Herod ordered the massacre of all male children two years of age or under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. In the book of Luke, which contains the only other New Testament story of Jesus birth, there is no mention of this horribly cruel order. Its also not recorded in any secular histories from the time not even by writers who carefully described many far less wicked deeds of Herod. The lack of corroboration means Matthews account was fabricated.
The humanist accusation is that this "slaughter of the innocents" is not recorded in secular history, so it must not have happened. However, this is an argument from secular silence, and as such is not necessarily a valid argument. The fact is, history is not silent on this. It was recorded in a reliable historical document, the Bible.
That might be the headline in the Jerusalem Post today, if King Herod's slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem had happened today. However, Jerusalem 2,000 years ago was a different place... a much different place.
This was such an atrocious event (to us). Why is there no record of this slaughter? Because, at the time, it was not significant. Here is why:
Bethlehem was a small village of, at most, 300 people. That means there were, at most, six or seven babies two years old and under. King Herod ordering seven babies killed was no big deal. It was tragic for those families. However, for Herod it was just part of another normal day.
I'm going to quote from the Associates For Biblical Research web site.
Unfortunately archaeologists have yet to excavate the archives of the Jerusalem Post from the year 4 BC! Nor does the first century AD Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus record this event in any of his writings. Even though secular history is silent on this event it does not mean it did not occur. When the life of Herod the Great is examined, this event is very consistent with his character and actions.
Historians explained a recurring pattern in the life of Herod. He would hear a rumor that somebody was going to bump him off and take over his throne, but Herod would kill that person first. He would then go into depression. After awhile he would come out of his depression and would build, build, build. He would hear another rumor and would kill that person, then go into another depression. After awhile he would come out of this depression and would build, build, build. This cycle repeated itself a number of times in which numerous people were killed, including one of his ten wives as well as three of his sons!
Five days before he died, Herod executed his oldest son Antipater (Antiquities 17:187; LCL 8:457-459). During that time period he also executed, by burning alive, two leading rabbis and then executed their students for participating in the eagle affair in the Temple (Antiquities 17:149-167; LCL 8:439-449; Wars 1:655; LCL 2:311).
In other words, Herod had no problem with casually killing anyone who might threaten his throne. He had people killed, even his own family members, without a second thought.
Paul L. Maier has pointed out, Josephus wrote for a Greco-Roman audience, which would have little concern for infant deaths. Greeks regularly practiced infanticide as a kind of birth control, particularly in Sparta, while the Roman father had the right not to lift his baby off the floor after birth, letting it die (1998:179).
These are just a few quotes from an excellent article that thoroughly examines this issue. Use the above link to read the entire article.
By the way I was wondering if you heard the news about the slaughter of women and babies that took place recently. Over 160 people were massacred as they ran from their homes in West Mosal this past June (2017). The news just came out today, December 23, 2017. You would think that such a slaughter of innocent people would have made headlines around the world. You would think that such an atrocity would result in a worldwide outcry for justice! However, my guess is that you have not heard about it. Why? Because it was just another day of slaughtering innocent people for ISIS. This news about 160 women and babies being slaughtered is not significant. Even today, it barely made the news six months after it happened. So why are you surprised that Herod killing six or seven babies, in a small no-where village, wasn’t recorded?
Let's not forget about abortion. Babies are being killed by the thousands every day. Human babies slaughtered by the thousands EVERY DAY. Does it make the news? No. It is normal that babies are killed by the thousands every day, and the normal does not make the news... no matter how sad, tragic and horrifying abortion is.
There is no reason that Herod’s killing a few babies in Bethlehem should be recorded in history. It simply was not significant.
The report in Matthew concerning Herod having the babies in Bethlehem killed is true and accurate.
Matthew 27:45 alleges that while Jesus was on the cross, there fell over the whole land a darkness lasting from midday until three in the afternoon. Andrew White explains that though Romans such as Seneca and Pliny carefully described much less striking occurrences of the same sort in more remote regions, they failed to note any such darkness occurring even in Judea.
And yet another argument from silence. Just because we have not found a non-Biblical record of something that happened 2000 years ago, does not mean it did not happen.
I'm continually stunned by the bias. If Josephus wrote about it, then it happened... even if it is not recorded anywhere else. So Josephus is considered 100% reliable, even if what he reported is not recorded anywhere else. Yet we know Josephus is a very biased recorder of history (he had to keep his patrons happy). On the other hand, if the Bible records an event as happening... we must assume it didn't happen unless that event is recorded in a secular source. Yet, the Bible has been proven, time after time, to be a highly accurate historical record. Okay... let's deal with this unwarranted bias against the Bible. Click here for the whole truth...
Before you get the good news, you need to know the bad news. It's about you. God says:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23
Sin means disobeying God, aka breaking God's law. God is perfect and perfection is required to enter heaven. It's a standard none of us can achieve. We all fall short. For example, compare yourself with just one of the Ten Commandments. Have you ever told a lie?
All liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:8. Or what about:
Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you, no matter how small? Have you ever looked at another person with lust? In Matthew 5 Jesus said:
Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' Have you done that?
You have broken God's laws. You have sinned. There must be justice, and that means eternity in hell, the lake of fire, the second death. Unless...
Unless there was someone willing to pay that penalty on your behalf. Someone who will take on themselves the consequences you deserve. And there is. There is one person who can and will do that. That person is Jesus Christ. If you trust this is true (believe), and repent (turn away from disobeying God), Jesus' death is applied to your account and you are freed from the penalty of sin to be with God forever.