Scarcely do I put up a post arguing with Jerry Coyne, when I notice he has put up another with an example of evidence for a god from John Farrell. And lo, I did look, and verily, I did become depressed at how stupid and pathetic it was.
An archeologist working in Israel, discovers an ossuary from the NT era: the inscription on the stone in Aramaic reads: “Twice dead under Pilatus; Twice born of Yeshua in sure hope of resurrection.” And the name corresponds to what in Greek would be Lazarus.
There are bones, so presumably with luck there may be some DNA that could be sequenced, but my main idea is that you have a clear physical candidate for an actual person written about in the Gospel of John. (There are some scholars who have argued that the author of the Gospel of John was Lazarus.)
Now, this isn’t evidence for “God” in his omnipotent sense, which I know is more what Jerry Coyne and PZ were debating. But, given most scholars believe the four gospels were composed no sooner than 70AD, and for that reason less likely to be reliable accounts, you now have evidence from decades before of a key character in one of the Gospels. And more: an inscription that, whatever we might think, clearly indicates whoever buried him knew of the miraculous story of his raising from the dead and believed it.
Seriously? This is the best that Farrell can do? Confirmation that people really believe in myths and fairy tales is not evidence of a deity. Nor is the existence of people named Jesus or Lazarus in the first century AD a point of contention or dazzling supporting evidence for a magic man in the sky.
With that level of empirical support, we could point to even older inscriptions that reference Jupiter Optimus Maximus and conclude that Jupiter actually was the bestest and greatest god ever, and therefore we all ought to worship him.
Farrell seems to realize his invention is rather feeble, so he adds another level of nonsense to it.
What if the family members from the same ossuary showed a related genome (as expected for his brothers, sister, parents) except that cancer-causing mutations in all of them were…found to be missing from his genome. Or even more startling, found to be ‘corrected.’
How do we know they’re all family members? Aside from the shared ossuary, all we’d have is genetic evidence…and here he’s saying there is genetic evidence that they are not related. I think if we went poking around in various families nowadays we might discover a few surprising insertions into the family gene pool, and I doubt that anyone’s first assumption would be that a Holy Ghost had been dicking around with Great Aunt Mary, or that an angel must have tweaked Cousin George’s genome when his mother wasn’t looking.
And what the heck is the difference between a particular allele being “missing” and being “corrected”? Does this guy even have a clue about what he’s talking about?
Anyway, here’s the general conflict: material evidence will have material explanations. Any natural explanation will be preferable to a supernatural explanation that drags in an all-powerful invisible boogey man in order to explain the arrangement of nucleotides in one set of old bones.