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Life of Jesus/ Titanic Stories

Date: 04-08-12
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Bart Ehrman, Charles Pellegrino

Ian Punnett was joined, in the first half, by historian and Bible expert, Bart Ehrman, who discussed the debate over whether or not Jesus existed. Contrary to the beliefs of "mythicists" who contend that Jesus was a fictional creation, he explained that "this is not a debate among scholars." As such, Ehrman rebuffed the mythicists' assertion that there is a conspiracy to keep the mythical nature of Jesus a secret by declaring such a concept as "absolute bunk." On the contrary, Ehrman said, "there's nobody teaching in research universities in this country who take a mythicist view and it's not because they're afraid for their job, it's simply because that's where the facts tend to lead." Acknowledging that the depiction of Jesus in the New Testament was likely influenced by pagan beliefs about divine men, Ehrman put forward a more human story for the man who would spawn Christianity.

He argued that Jesus was a "Jewish apocalypic prophet" who believed that the world was "controlled by forces of evil" to be overthrown by God. Additionally, Ehrman pointed to historical writings from the year 115 which mention a man named Jesus who had followers and was executed by Pontius Pilate. Given that Jesus is first mentioned 80 years after his death, Ehrman theorized that he "didn't make a huge impact on the people of his own day." He also suggested that Jesus' death by crucifixion was another key piece of evidence that he truly existed, since it contradicted Jewish messianic prophecy. Had the story of Jesus been a fictional tale to create a messiah, he said, it would not have conflicted with these prophesies and caused the creation of a new religion.

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In the latter half, scientist Charles Pellegrino shared untold stories about the sinking and exploration of the Titanic. "Each new advance in the technology just allows us to see more and more," he marveled, noting that the robots sent down to the ship have gotten progressively smaller, shrinking from the size of a small refrigerator to, soon, being a small as a crab. New high definition sonar maps, he said, have revealed remarkable insights into the downed ship, such as a huge piece of debris that had previously been undiscovered. In looking at how the Titanic sunk, Pellegrino detailed the human elements which accelerated the disaster and dispelled the popular notion that the ship encountered only one iceberg.

He also addressed the story of William Murdoch, who was the first officer of the ship and had been vilified for shooting two passengers on the sinking vessel. In looking at his previous research into the controversial figure, Pellegrino reflected that he had "spent too much time focusing on the last three minutes of this man's life." He cited new research which actually reveals that "two-thirds to three-quarters" of the people who escaped the ship did so via Murdoch's help. Pelligrino credited him with "breaking the bottlenecks" and forcing women, reluctant to leave their husbands behind, into lifeboats with their children. He theorized that the shootings were an attempt to gain extra time to get the final lifeboat onto the sea and, ultimately, "Murdoch was one of the real life-saving heroes of that night."

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Bumper music from Sunday April 08, 2012

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