Very briefly, for clarification – A fellow atheist pointed out that in my article on the Alpha Course I incorrectly asserted that we had earlier copies of Herodotus’s work:
“Herodotus as an example, we have the first hand copy written by himself preserved for all to see which matches – this is the key - the later copies we have of the work.
Unfortunately this is not the case, and my error was due to not fact checking enough before publication. In fact there is questions among Scholars as to how reliable his work actually is. Thus we cannot be certain if the textual accounts are accurate (in fact some are obviously not).
In addressing my mistake I must clear up why his existence inferred from his work is generally accepted. His work we have from surviving copies tells us he wrote 40 years after the Persian War and lived during it; Contrasted to Suetonius who wrote 85 years after Christianity began; Gospels, 40-100 years after. The significance of each gap is very different. We have no reason to believe any substantial corruptions have occurred in the text of Herodotus (though there must necessarily have been some), because there was no ideological pressure to meddle with them, and no evidence that such meddling was rife (as opposed to the evidence we have of rapid and constant meddling with the text of the NT, especially the Gospels and Acts). Since we can infer this with some reliability and the accounts are first hand we can reasonably assume his existence. This is not a guarantee but simply reviewing the evidence and assessing what is reasonable.
This is obviously a much more confusing example than I should have given, and while I did infer that 3rd party evidence is what we look for “…or coins perhaps of a Roman Emperor etc exist…” I did not choose an example that was very good in hindsight.
I apologise to anyone swayed by the argument on false premise. I hope that you can review the situation and agree it is not a major issue to the entire argument, but for the sake of honesty I have laid it out for all to review.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.