Ken Temple and “Good Science”: Debunking Another Christian Lie

Ken Temple and “Good Science”: Debunking Another Christian Lie

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بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.””

– Matthew 2:1-2

Magi_(1)
Figure 1 – “The Three Magi” from a Byzantine Mosaic from c. 565 CE (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Magi)

            It just keeps getting worse for Kennywise. The guy is taking a pounding on BloggingTheology on all sorts of topics (theology, history, science, etc.), but his attempt at defending the unique birth narrative in the Gospel of Matthew truly serves as one of the best examples of how utterly lost and deluded this apologist really is.

            In one of his typical rants defending his idolatry (i.e., the worship of Jesus as “God”), he mentioned the story of the Magi.[1] This story is, like others, unique to the Gospel of Matthew. No other source in the New Testament mentions it or even hints at it. Here is how Matthew introduces these mysterious men:

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.””[2]

The NIV has a footnote denoting that “magi” were “wise men”.[3] While this may have been their reputation in the pagan cultures of the time, the reality is that they were anything but wise. Notice that verse 2 states clearly that these so-called “wise men” came to “worship” the baby Jesus (the Greek word for “worship” doesn’t necessarily mean that) after they “saw his star when it rose”. So, these men were nothing but superstitious pagans who used the stars to predict events or to serve as signs of a momentous event. Such a practice is known as “astrology”. Indeed, Christian sources admit that these men were actually astrologers. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines “magi” as the following:

“…the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldaeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augurs, soothsayers, sorcerers etc.”[4]

So, these so-called “wise men” were respected in the pagan cultures of Babylon, Media, and Persia. That should already raise a red flag: three pagans claimed they saw a “star” and came to worship a newborn baby as a god.[5]

            Rightfully so, the Bible condemns astrology as a pagan practice. On this, it agrees with the teachings of Islam:

“[a]ll the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you.”[6]

“So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed.”[7]

Using celestial bodies for such purposes or believing that they were signs of a momentous events was also condemned by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessing be upon him) observed: Allah does not shower His blessings from the heaven that in the morning a group of men disbelieve it (to be a blessing from Allah). Allah sends down rain, but they (the disbelievers) say: Such and such star (is responsible for that).”[8]

“Narrated Abu Mas`ud: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “the sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life of someone, but they are two signs amongst the Signs of Allah. So, if you see them, offer the Prayer (of eclipse).”[9]

There is no doubt that using astrology, the practice of interpreting the position or movement of stars as having some relation to events on earth, is categorically condemned.

            Of course, Temple already knows this, but in his blind zeal to defend the historicity of the Bible, he resorted to ridiculous arguments. One such argument was that these “Magi” had “repented” of their paganism:

“[t]he [sic] repented of their paganism and magic and astrology. God accepts the humble who admit their sins and accept Him on His terms.”[10]

But when pressed for evidence that these men had “repented”, all Temple could offer was that it was “implied” since they spent “so much effort to seek the Messiah out”. He also claimed (without evidence) that:

“[a]pparently, they had been studying the prophecy of Daniel in 9:24-27…”[11]

But if these people had studied the book of Daniel (this is just an assumption), they would have known that using the stars as guides for earthly events is an abominable pagan practice, and thus, would not have looked for a “star” as a sign of the Messiah in the first place. Also, as a challenge to Temple, I would like him to show us where in the book of Daniel or any book of the Bible was it prophesied that a “star” would signal the birth of the Messiah. Where is this prophecy? How did the pagan astrologers know to look for it?

            Unable to prove that the astrologers had repented, Temple was then faced with another problem: the “wise men” clearly used astrology to find the Messiah! And here is where Temple further descended into the realm of the absurd. He claimed that the Magi used “good science” to find the Messiah! In one of his most laughable comments, he stated:

“God uses nature / creation to reveal Himself. God can use good science, astronomy, to reveal Himself – as He did with the Magi. God speaks through creation and through dreams. God was not approving of the pagan astrology aspects of their former religion, but of the proper use of astronomy and honor to creation and God as creator of the sun and planets and stars, etc.  The star was a miracle star, a miraculous star that moved and showed them the way.”[12]

Anyone with even an entry-level knowledge of science would laugh at such a statement. Temple was confusing the legitimate scientific field of astronomy with the superstitious field of astrology. Indeed, this confusion was common in ancient times. As the Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains:

“[a]t one time, these two words actually were synonymous (that is, astronomy once meant what astrology means today), but they have since moved apart from each other. In current use, astronomy is concerned with “the study of objects and matter outside the earth’s atmosphere,” while astrology is the purported divination of how stars and planets influence our lives. Put bluntly, astronomy is a science, and astrology is not.”[13]

So, were the Magi using “good science” when they saw a “star” and excitedly went to look for the Messiah? Were they really “astronomers”? Clearly, this is an absurd claim. Astronomers do not use celestial bodies to predict events on earth or as signs for a specific event. This is what astrologers do. Therefore, the “Magi” were astrologers, pagan “wise men” who believed that stars could influence events on earth. Even church fathers like Justin Martyr nonchalantly acknowledged this. Justin, in his Dialogue with Trypho, stated:

“Now this king Herod, at the time when the Magi came to him from Arabia, and said they knew from a star which appeared in the heavens that a King had been born in your country…”[14]

            Ironically, the Catholic Encyclopedia accepts the fact that these Magi had used their “erroneous” art to find the Messiah. In other words, it acknowledges that these men used a pagan practice to find their god (emphasis mine):

“[t]he philosophy of the Magi, erroneous though it was, led them to the journey by which they were to find Christ. Magian astrology postulated a heavenly counterpart to complement man’s earthly self and make up the complete human personality. His “double” (the fravashi of the Parsi) developed together with every good man until death united the two. The sudden appearance of a new and brilliant star suggested to the Magi the birth of an important person. They came to adore him — i.e., to acknowledge the Divinity of this newborn King (vv. 2, 8, 11).”[15]

 This clearly contradicts Temple’s dishonest claims.

            Thus, assuming that the story has any historical truth (we will see shortly that it does not), the fact that 3 pagan men came to “worship” a newborn baby should make any reasonable person suspicious of their intentions. Indeed, if Mary was present at the scene, it is absurd to claim that she would have happily allowed these men to present “gifts” to her son. Being a staunch monotheist, the noble Mary would have rejected such gifts.

            But as it turns out, the story was most likely an invention of the author, perhaps copied from an actual event that occurred during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. As the late Geza Vermes observed (emphasis mine):

“[i]t is conceivable that another relatively recent event influenced Matthew and prompted him to introduce the Magi into his narrative.  This was the visit to Rome in the late 50s or early 60s AD of the Armenian king Tiridates and his courtiers, whom Pliny the Elder designates as Magi (Natural History 30:6, 16-17).  This Tiridates is said to have come to Rome to worship the emperor-god Nero in the same way as Matthew’s Magi came to worship the newborn Messiah of the Jews.  A further curious coincidence which may have caught Matthew’s attention is a detail noted by the Roman chronicler Cassius Dio.  After Tiridates  had been confirmed by Nero as king, this group of ‘Magi,’ like the ‘wise men’ of the New Testament, did not return by the same route as the one they followed coming to Rome (Roman History 63:1-7).”[16]

The similarities are obvious, but while the story in the Gospel of Matthew has no historical support, the meeting between Nero and Tiridates and his Magi is attested in multiple Roman sources. It seems likely then, that the author of the gospel used this familiar story as the backdrop for his made-up story of the Magi visiting Jesus (peace be upon him). Given “Matthew’s” tendency to include stories not found anywhere else (e.g., the “Massacre of the Innocents” by Herod), it seems likely that he simply made up the story. The influence of events in the Roman Empire, and the culture of the empire itself, are attested in many books of the New Testament. For example, the Roman belief in the return of Nero (Nero redivivus or Nero redux) clearly influenced the book of Revelation’s imagery of the “beast”.[17]

            In conclusion, Temple’s apologetic excuses are utterly ridiculous. His dishonesty and biases clearly show that he is not worthy of respect or trust. The man is an agent of evil. Thankfully, his lies are very easy to refute. Satan chose a really bad agent to spread his lies. And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!’


[1] https://bloggingtheology.com/2020/03/27/the-contradiction-at-the-heart-of-the-new-treatment-st-paul-vs-matthew/comment-page-1/#comment-36273

[2] Matthew 2:1-2.

[3] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+2&version=NIV#fen-NIV-23171a

[4] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3097&t=NIV

[5] Strangely enough, Mary was obviously present at the birth and would have witnessed these pagan “wise men” “worshiping” her son. Yet, we are told that in his adulthood, Jesus’ family claimed he was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). This is proof that the author of “Mark” did not know the story of the Magi and that it was invented by Matthew (or he took it from a different source).

[6] Isaiah 47:13.

[7] Daniel 2:2. Notice that it was Nebuchadnezzar who summoned the astrologers to interpret his dreams. Of course, these astrologers failed, and it was Daniel who was able to tell the king what the dream actually meant. Daniel was not an astrologer. It is interesting that the book of Daniel itself condemns astrology, and it serves to refute one of Temple’s pathetic arguments in support of the Magi, as we will see.

[8] Sahih Muslim, 1:139, https://sunnah.com/muslim/1/139.

[9] Sahih Bukhari, 59:15, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/59/15.

[10] https://bloggingtheology.com/2020/03/27/the-contradiction-at-the-heart-of-the-new-treatment-st-paul-vs-matthew/comment-page-1/#comment-36284

[11] The alleged “prophecy” that the “Anointed One” would be “cut-off” has been discussed here: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/the-anointed-one-will-be-cut-off-a-response-to-ken-temple-and-the-christian-abuse-of-daniel-926/

[12] https://bloggingtheology.com/2020/03/27/the-contradiction-at-the-heart-of-the-new-treatment-st-paul-vs-matthew/comment-page-1/#comment-36293

[13] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/astrology

[14] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 78, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01286.htm.

[15] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09527a.htm

[16] Geza Vermes, The Nativity: History and Legend (London: Penguin Books, 2006), p. 112.

[17] For a discussion of this, see here: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/the-book-of-revelation/

 

21 thoughts on “Ken Temple and “Good Science”: Debunking Another Christian Lie

  1. Pingback: Ken Temple and “Good Science”: Debunking Another Christian Lie – Blogging Theology

  2. sam

    We can see it very simple who we are:
    – Christians alongside pagans are worshiping Jesus (pbuh).
    – Muslims alongside Jesus (and all prophets from Adam to Muhammad (peace be upon them)) are worshiping God alone.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Vaqas Rehman

    Hmmm, so with the star narrative being proved false i guess that also means one theory of the name isa or eesa is also probably false http://www.answering-christianity.com/eesa.htm

    “Thus it has been clearly demonstrated that Jesus’ name being “`Eesa” from the Arabic root “`Assa” and the Hebrew root “`Esh” meaning “North Star” has far more credibility than a reference to a name for which there is absolutely no congruence with Biblical prophecy or historical evidence. By clinging to the erroneous names for Jesus, “Yeshua`” and “Yahushuwa'”, in order to force the idea of a Savior man-god, the Chrisitans have laid doubt upon the very existence of Jesus. He was born as the Messiah, and was the Star that came forth from the House of Jacob, and thus he was named “`Eesa” named after the Star of the Messiah. “Yeshua`”, “Yahushuwa`”, “Immanuel”, “Emmanuel” are all the result of Christian arm twisting of the Tanach to force it to say something that has no congruence with the Israelite Messianic prophecies.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. stewjo004

      @ Vaqas

      I’ve heard this before. From my limited understanding, it is possible Isa does derive from Assa and a star Messianic prophecy does happen not in Daniel like Temple thought but in Numbers:

      “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.

      https://biblehub.com/numbers/24-17.htm

      @ QB

      My issue with Isa(as) having the name Yusha(as) is it should have theoretically just carried over the same if it was just a simple loan word. Turning a “ya” into “ayn” is kinda strange.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Vaqas Rehman

        @Stew

        But that does beg a question, since the star narrative is proved to be borrowed does that eliminate Assa from being related to Isa or Eesa?

        As for the name itself, i think the simplest explanation is that it was in use by Christians at the time. After all we have no record of them ever taking issue with the name. But I do think it’s an interesting question for a scholar!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. stewjo004

        @ QB

        Hmmm…I thought that was Messianic? Either way I thought about it even if we drop the “Assa” theory you could be right (I still don’t think he(as) ever used Yeshua though) His name can be the loan of the name so:

        Yeshua=Joshua (Hebrew) < Isho=Jesus< Isho<Isa(Arabic)

        Example:

        Muhammad (Arabic)<Mehmet (Turkish)

        Mehmet is the conqueror of Constantinople but its a derivative of Muhammad. It could be the same with Isa(as) his name is Yusha loaned into Aramaic. This kinda makes sense as Allah said He named Yahya(as) with a unique name but not necessarily Isa(as).

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Zakariya

        @stewjo004 @quranandbibleblog
        As salam alaikum, I just wanted to say Jazaka’Allah for your responses to my question Al hamdulilah. I just have another question insha’Allah:
        I came across this argument lately;
        ”The early church was persecuted and so the idea that they had time to emmbellish their beliefs either by attributing wrong things to Jesus, inventing dogma or by creating supernatural stories seems absurd to me”
        What do you think about this?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. The stories of persecution are greatly exaggerated. There is a good book about it “The Myth of Persecution” by Candida Moss. While there there were rare periods of government or local persecution, it usually did not last long.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. @Zakariyya, from a historical perpective we don’t know much about the early church/es except from questionable sources which should be noted that they were written during a time when fabrications was very very very common…either way what do they mean by “early church”? various sects was already competing with each other at an early stage, all it took to create a sect was a fabrication with a pen or some nutjob with good charisma and followers dedicated to lay down their lives…if by early church they mean the apostles then we can’t trust the bible, if they mean the church fathers then we can’t trust the surrounding Patristic literature with enough certainty and when it comes to them what matters isn’t who is dying, what really matters is for what they’re dying and what is the source of the belief they’re ready to die for…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. stewjo004

        @ Zakariya

        As noted by QB the “persecution” accounts for the tine are exaggerated (they did have sone serious times though like Nero and the one from the people of the cave) but the initial batch no. Even their text kinda alludes to it from the fact that the Disciples (ra) and James are just kicking it in the Temple preaching.

        With that being said, even ignoring that, this is EXACTLY the thing they were doing. The fact that their beliefs are already having major divergences at inception is proof of that. Remember their is no authority or checks and balances (coupled with a 30 year dark age). Basically from what can be seen if you go with Q theory they had “hadith books”

        Isa said…
        Isa said…
        Isa said…

        That they then framed stories around these sayings to strengthen their beliefs. Example of something Isa(as) said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and Allah what is Allah’s” but its context has been stripped and put into a story.

        Like

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