UPDATE: Note that an “Alvin Plantinga” has commented favorably on the National Geographic fiction (comment #14 below). I can’t be sure that it’s the Alvin Plantinga, known for convoluted Sophisticated Theology™, but I’m guessing it is. If you respond to him, be polite!
What the bloody hell is happening with National Geographic? Article after article is about religion—often Christianity—and all of these latter assume that Jesus was a real person (the implication is a divine person). Is this the way the Murdochs, who now have a controlling stake in the magazine, expect to turn a profit?
Reader Scott called my attention to a new exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. Here, Ceiling Cat help me, is the announcement (click on screenshot to go to page):
At the bottom of the photo you can read this: “PLAN YOUR VISIT: Exhibition features a short 3-D film with active 3-D glasses. Exhibition not recommended for guests susceptible to motion sickness or dizziness.”
Not recommended for those susceptible to fairy tales, either!
The whole page and its accompanying pdf pamphlet cast no doubt on the claim that this is indeed the tomb of Christ, nor, indeed, on the existence of Christ himself. The only nod to skepticism is this brief statement in the pdf file:
EVERYONE, WHETHER DEVOUT OR NOT, can feel a spiritual power when visiting holy sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, home to what many Christians believe is the site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection.
“Can feel”? Or “will feel”? (There’s a difference.) At any rate, the whole allure of this exhibit is the claim that it really is Jesus’s burial spot, something that couldn’t be verified unless there were some contemporary information inside the tomb.
But as we all know, and which Biblical scholars are loath to admit, there is no evidence for the existence of a Jesus person outside of Scripture—and if he existed, there should be. I’d love for National Geographic to publish a scrupulously honest article: “Jesus: Did he really exist?” Imagine how subscriptions would drop!
For example, in the first video below, produced by the magazine, it exhorts you at 40 seconds in to “Team up with conservation experts and historians as they race to restore the tomb of Christ.” Really? Is there no doubt about this? And get a load of the “science and faith” bit at the end, as if they are complementary ways to establish the provenance of this tomb.
In the second video, also by National Geographic, they open the sealed tomb! At 1:34, the caption appears: “This is the first time that anyone alive today has seen the holy bed.” That, of course, presumes it’s the holy bed. Do they expect to find an engraving that says “Jesus slept here”?
Of course there are no remains or other indications of what was in this spot, but that of course is just what the Bible predicts! In this case, the absence of evidence IS evidence.
At best the archaeologists might be able to date the cavity to around the time Jesus is supposed to have lived, but that will convince only the credulous. There’s a reason they’re called “sheep.”
When did National Geographic completely abandon its scientific bent to pander to the faithful? If you still subscribe, why?