how 'bout those Chinese people, eh?

I was recently watching the 2008 Olympics and one of the commentators stated that the Chinese people have a 5,000-year written, documented history. If that's the case and is empirically true, where do the YEC's say the Chinese came from if the earth is only 6,000 years old?
Atheist Answer: 

If you really try, the two timelines juuuuuuuust about fit together. I mean really try.

The link is the downfall of the Tower of Babel, where (supposedly) human language diversified and the different peoples went their separate ways. The Biblical timeline accepted by YECs puts this incident at about 2700 BC, or about 4700 years ago. By sheer coincidence, that's just when early Chinese written language came about. That announcer rounded up a bit when he said 5000 years.

You can therefore imagine a scenario where the Chinese-speaking Babelites trekked straight from the ruined Tower to Asia over a few months or years and set up shop there. It's a near thing, but it kind of works.

Ancient Chinese history is therefore not the history to pick when you're trying to contradict the Bible. Happily, you're spoilt for alternatives. Writing itself came about in the 4th millennium BC (4000-3000 BC), and plenty of civilisations around the world were doing it. Even in the 5th millennium BC, supposedly before Creation, there were lots of symbols being carved into stones. Before that, it's all strictly archaeological evidence.

Happy digging.

- SmartLX

Claimed manuscript evidence for superior New Testament reliability

Quoted from http://www.carm.org/evidence/textualevidence.htm. "...if the critics want to disregard the New Testament, then they must also disregard other ancient writings by Plato, Aristotle, and Homer. This is because the New Testament documents are better preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writing. Because the copies are so numerous, they can be cross checked for accuracy. This process has determined that the biblical documents are extremely consistent and accurate...If we were to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient writings, we find that the New Testament manuscripts far outweigh the others in quantity...there are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than any other ancient writing. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure...If the critics of the Bible dismiss the New Testament as reliable information, then they must also dismiss the reliability of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Homer...On the other hand, if the critics acknowledge the historicity and writings of those other individuals, then they must also retain the historicity and writings of the New Testament authors..."
Atheist Answer: 

A falsehood doesn't become truth no matter how carefully it's preserved and distributed.

There are good reasons to place the reliability of the other writings above that of the New Testament. Among them is the fact that we generally know who the authors were (and in the case of Julius Caesar for instance, there are surviving contemporary likenesses of him on coins and statues). Another reason in some cases is the existence of other independent accounts of the same events written within thirty years of the events themselves. An obvious reason is the occurrence of physical events in the New Testament which cannot possibly be duplicated or tested today, such as the virgin birth and the resurrection. (Most Christians, however, seem devoid of incredulity regarding these events, so this last reason isn't a great one to give believers.)

Setting all this aside, however, and assuming that accounts in the New Testament today are faithful to what its authors originally wrote, nothing prevents the accounts from having been false in the first place.

Sure enough, there are real places like Jerusalem and real people like Pontius Pilate. Forrest Gump met JFK in the White House, but that doesn't make Forrest Gump real.

The huge amount of surviving manuscripts is hardly surprising either. More than any secular historical document, the New Testament was made to be spread around. Even before the Gideons (and before hotel room drawers), there were groups and individuals who made the stories available to as many people as possible. The wording was critically important, as demonstrated by current theological debates over the meaning of single phrases or even words. Therefore accuracy was largely maintained, except when people intentionally skewed the meanings to suit them (for instance, in the New World Translation by the Jehovah's Witnesses).

In short, we have a book which huge numbers of people have seen as vitally important since before it was written. A book where every word is essential, a book everyone is meant to read. Its popularity flourished, its integrity was (mostly) safeguarded and it's still around today. Does that mean it contains the truth? No. It means we probably do know what some people really said happened 2000 years ago, and we still have to make up our own minds whether they were right.

- SmartLX

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