Did the Apostles invent lying?

One line of thought, made by thoughtless enemies of Chistianity and assumed by biblical scholars (often the same people) goes as follows:  verses from the New Testament that give authority to the Apostles over the Christian community can’t be trusted because it would have been in the Apostles’ interests to fabricate those parts of Scripture.  Therefore, we can assume that this is what we did.  Now, when you take out all the parts of the New Testament that confer authority on anyone, you are left with no evidence of hierarchy in the movement Jesus set up.  Therefore, we can be sure that Jesus created an egalitarian “spiritual but not religious” movement with no leaders and no dogmas.

Breathtaking in its stupidity, isn’t it?  Of course, it sounds a lot more convincing if it’s not all set forth explicitly like I just did.  A little bit of sophisticated-seeming skepticism can be quite effective in ruining other peoples’ faith.  “So Jesus gave Peter the keys to heaven, hey?  And who told us that–Peter?  How convenient…”

In fact, that Jesus gave the Apostles authority over His movement is just about the most historically certain thing we can say about His ministry.  The skeptic’s suspicion has a serious chicken-and-egg problem.  If the Apostles had the ability to fabricate assertions about their commission from Christ and have these claims accepted by the early Christians, then they already had even more authority than the inserted Scripture passages would give them.  It is absolutely absurd to think that, in an egalitarian movement many of whose members still had vivid memories of their Founder’s preaching, twelve regular Joes with no special connection to Christ at all could claim that He had made them the movement’s permanent leaders, and be believed.  This is what biblical scholars and New-Age gnostics ask us to believe, and it’s so improbable as to be ludicrous.  If the Apostles really did put words in Jesus’ mouth, Christ Himself must have–by word or deed–put them in the position to do so.

This brings us to one of atheism’s most popular “just-so” stories for how religions come into being.  It’s all a scam by priests, they say.  Some shmuck decided he didn’t like working for a living, so he went and told his neighbors that they must supply all his needs or else a powerful creature in the sky will destroy them.  And, of course, everyone is supposed to have just believed this!

Recently, the atheists have decided to popularize their theory.  This was a bad idea.  They made a movie called The Invention of Lying situated in an imaginary world where no one has ever contemplated or even heard of deception.  For selfish or silly reasons, the main character invents the ideas of God and the afterlife and uses them to manipulate people, who uncritically accept everything he says.  So here we have it set out for millions of viewers–the atheist theory of the origins of religion.  They should have kept it to themselves.  The discerning viewer will immediately observe that a world where no one has heard of lying is the only world where the atheist’s scenario could ever work.  It should go without saying that, after studying thousands of primitive peoples, anthropologists have yet to come across such singularly gullible people.  All peoples know about lying.  All of them also have religion.

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