True to form, the National Post's resident village idiot and Catholic mouthpiece Father Raymond J. De Souza embarrasses his species with yet another example of absurd Biblical apologetics:
A census for the ages
Father Raymond J. De Souza, National Post
Published: Monday, December 24, 2007
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
Government edicts are often maddening, but the command of Augustus for a census was also providential. The saviour was to come from Bethlehem, and the rigourous census procedures -- everyone back to his hometown -- meant that Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem for the birth.
The above fairy tale is, quite simply, so fucking stupid, it's not clear where to even start taking it apart.
First, understand that there is not a single reliable historical record of the vaunted census that dingbats like De Souza keep babbling about:
CENSUS/TAXATION: Luke 2:1-4 mentions that Jesus' birth occurred during the time that Caesar Augustus had ordered all of the known world to be taxed. Luke said that every person had to return to the city of his ancestors, to be registered and taxed. Joseph went to Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David. But this universal census and tax never actually happened. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote a very complete history of the Jews in Palestine. He does mention a census which was conducted in Judea in 6 CE. But this was only a local census, not one that would enable "all the world to be taxed." Its purpose was to count the male population so that they could be taxed at a later time. And it triggered a major uprising among the Jews, who regarded a census as against scripture and the will of God. He does not refer to an earlier census and poll tax.
Precisely. But it's not even necessary to get that scholarly to understand that the idea of everyone returning to their "own city" for the sake of a census is simply ludicrous on its face. It shouldn't be hard to envision the indescribable chaos that would result as the majority of the population suddenly had to pack up and leave their homes and jobs for the sake of nothing more than to be counted:
There is no record of a mass migration of adults to their ancestral cities in order to be registered. It would have been totally impractical to hold a census in this way. The primitive transportation systems of the Roman Empire would have been totally inadequate to handle the flow of people. The entire empire would be largely shut down for many months while people were returning to their home towns. Even today, with airplanes, trains, busses and automobiles, it would not be practical to hold a census in this manner.
Can anyone of even marginally sound mind take this story seriously? But, wait ... it gets so much better.
Recall that first bit of the book of Luke:
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
So Joseph was forced to return to Bethlehem because that was "the city of David" and because he (Joseph) was "of the house and lineage of David?" Really? And just how much was Joseph of the lineage of David, one might ask? Uh oh (emphasis tail-waggingly added):
The Scriptures that the Christians wanted to appeal to say the messiah would be born of David's line, so Matthew and Luke faked the evidence to show that this was the case. Matthew 1:1-16, and Luke 3:23-38 show totally different genealogies, Luke's shows 41 generations from David's son Nathan to Joseph while Matthew lists twenty six generations from David's son Solomon.
I'm sorry, come again? Joseph's destination for this alleged census is based on the fact that he's 41 generations removed from his ancestor's home town!?!? Are you fucking kidding me!?!?
In any event, it doesn't take much brainpower and time to establish that this fairy tale is exactly that -- an idiotic fairy tale. But that doesn't stop Father Raymond De Souza from believing it, and it doesn't stop the cementheads at the National Post from publishing his historically ignorant rantings.
Who said stupid doesn't pay?