By now most of you have heard about the Discover Channel "documentary" fronted by executive director James Cameron that claims to refute conventional religious wisdom on the resurrection of Jesus. Specifically the filmmakers claim that they have scientific proof that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a son, Judah based on DNA evidence in combination with lexical analysis of names found on a tomb.
Since then the announcement of claims by the filmmakers has been met by scorn and ridicule by scholars of all walks who soundly denounce the claims as one sided speculation at best. But that rarely stops those with an agenda. Instead the doubters are summarily dismissed and often put in unflattering light as if they are the ones who have something to prove.
Even the New York Times gave a semi-honest assessment in their TV review that stated that the film is based on one sided hypothesis. However that doesn't prevent them from injecting some credibility into the documentary with one liners such as the following:
Almost all the scholars interviewed support the filmmakers’ case, though one doubting Thomas is included, David Mevorah, a curator at the Israel Museum. “Suggesting that this tomb was the tomb of the family of Jesus is a far-fetched suggestion,” he says. “And we need to be very careful with that.”
Doubting Thomas, get it? Quaint. Of course this begs the question about the scholars that weren't interviewed.
If we put the New York Times doubting Thomas's beliefs aside however we can peel away the onion that liberals foolishly peddle as truth by turning to the scholars that the religious detractors exclude from their analysis; namely those scholars whose research was critical to the claims made by Cameron and “award winning” investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici.
Scientific American, no panacea of conservative thought, has a very revealing interview in its March 2nd article titled ‘Says Scholar Whose Work Was Used in the Upcoming Jesus Tomb Documentary: "I think it's completely mishandled. I am angry"’.
The following quotes from the article demonstrate the depth of ignorance that emanates from Hollywood liberals and their cohorts in worlds of journalism and academia.
Of special note was Tal Ilan, whose Lexicon of Jewish Names was essential to the statistical calculation made by Andrey Feuerverger, the U. of Toronto professor of statistics and mathematics who is quoted in the documentary as saying that the odds that any family other than that of the historical Jesus family would have the same names as that family, and be buried in the Tomb the documentary covers, are 600 to 1. In other words, that number argues, the odds are slim that this isn't the tomb of Jesus.
You'd be forgiven for finding such claims far-fetched, and with the exception of the historian, James Tabor, who was consulted for the film, the professionals in the field appear to find these claims no less incredible.
In an interview I conducted this morning, the scholar Tal Ilan, without whose work these calculations would have been impossible, expressed outrage over the film and its use of her work--she's the source of the quotation in the headline of this post.
In other words, despite the overwhelming amount of scholarly claims to the contrary the filmmakers decided to continue along their merry way by teaming up with a few outsiders who would parrot the premise of the film. Thus fiction becomes fact and liberals can sit content that they have attacked another claim of the religious faithful with such "hard hitting" evidence.
There is a deeper importance in the statements made by many of the scholars on which the filmmakers claims are based because they sound eerily similar to those who denounce some of the more far fetched claims made by global warming activists. But why shouldn't it? This is the modus operandi of liberal activism.
For instance, Jodi Magness, a professor of archeology and Jewish history of that period at UNC Chapel Hill said the following in the Scientific American report.
Let me tell you what I think. So first of all if you're writing for Scientific American, so it's important to point out that this debate is taking place in a most unscientific of manners.
Archaeology is a scientific and academic discipline and there are proper fora for these discussions--if you're a scholar and you have something you want to present to the larger world, there are proper ways of doing that, specifically publishing papers in peer reviewed journals or at meetings, so your colleageus can respond to it.
If after that you can go ahead and announce that and people can say "Well I've responded to this," then that's fine. But I've been slammed with [interviews for] this now - it was announced in the public media.
I'm reacting to something that has not been published or peer reviewed and I haven't even seen the film - the entire way this has been done has been an injustice to the entire discipline and also to the public.
I think it's a very important point to make - that this is almost a wikipedia form of scholarship. They're presenting it or setting it up as though we have a discovery and you can react and it's all legitimate and valid which it's not.
She is absolutely correct. Her main arguments about peer review and wikipedia form of scholarship are central to the debate on how liberal activists misrepresent science to further their agenda. This is exactly what is being done on fronts such as global warming and embryonic stem cell research. Those who wish to silence debate are afraid to give a voice to those who have a plethora of evidence that calls their claims into question. Thus they collect a group of like minded individuals, shut down discussion and fund research that supports preconceived notions; a perfect unscientific consensus.
But as they say, never let the facts knock you off your agenda - liberalism depends on it.
It is ironic that a film on religion serves so perfectly to demonstrate the underhanded tactics that liberals use to further their agenda. But it does in the sort of perfect circle that is found on a much more spiritual level than many on the left are able to comprehend.
This article is crossposted at Webloggin.