Tim Callahan - Biblical Criticism

Biblical Criticism

After studying the mythologies of the Mesopotamians, Egyptians and Greeks as well as those of the Celtic, Teutonic and Slavic peoples, Callahan wrote two books of biblical criticism.

His 1997 book Bible Prophecy: Failure or Fulfillment? examines modern end-of-world scenarios and rejects the claims of Christian fundamentalists. The book attempts to categorize Book of Revelation-based prophecies as true, false or excessively vague; in the case of true prophecies, to discover whether they were only made after the event predicted (Texas sharpshooter fallacy); in the case of prior prophecies, to investigate whether the predicted outcomes were logically derivable from known events in the particular prophet's lifetime; and whether any prophecies were deliberately fulfilled by someone with knowledge of the prophecy.

His 2002 book Secret Origins of the Bible utilizes the tools of comparative mythology and archaeology to place Biblical stories and themes in the context of other ancient mythic systems and discusses the relatively recent arrival of monotheistic faiths such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam as an organic outgrowth of older animist and polytheistic belief systems. Citing research of scholars such as Richard Friedman to show how numerous Bible stories, from Adam and Eve to the slaughter of the innocents to the life and death of Jesus were stitched together and elaborated from much earlier myths, Callahan criticizes the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy espoused by theologians such as Gleason Archer, Jr. and asserts that at least some portions of the Bible are ahistoric, contradictory or incoherent.

As religion editor of Skeptic Magazine, Callahan has also has written numerous articles on religion and mythic themes in popular belief, as well as book reviews debunking claims of "intelligent design" theorists and other anti-evolutionists.

Callahan has also written a scathing review of Lee Strobel's Christian apologetic The Case for a Creator, accusing the book of "lacking candor":

"Strobel's rhetorical strategy is to pose as a skeptic who presents arguments for evolution and a naturalistic explanation of the Universe to several scientists who espouse creationism or intelligent design. This is the foundation for the book's basic lack of candor. Strobel is not presenting the real arguments for evolution to those skeptical of it. Instead, he only presents a caricature of evolution--a straw mare--as an easy target to those who wish to attack it. That the whole exercise is a sham can be seen by the fact that following the overwhelming majority of these interviews Strobel does not take the arguments of the intelligent design advocates to scientists who oppose their views to see what sort of rebuttal they might give. Thus, there is no debate. In The Case for a Creator, creationists have the first, last and only word, and their arguments are presented as irrefutable."

Callahan points out in the same essay that the documented existence of transitional forms between reptiles and birds, such as archeopteryx, and reptiles and mammals, such as the therapsids, refutes the argument of literal creationists who suggest that God made each animal or plant as a separate and distinct creation.

Another essay derives various New Age spiritual and pseudoscientific fantasies of Atlantis, so-called Bible codes and ancient astronauts from earlier antecedents like Immanuel Velikovsky, and points out the striking similarity between the Calvinist doctrine of special election and the New Age notion of humanity's supposed deliberate creation by extraterrestrials.

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