Critical Thinking Watch: A Lot of Conservatives Still Doubt Barack Obama was Born in Honolulu, but Few Doubt Jesus was Born in Bethlehem. How Come?

Barack Obama has released his long form birth certificate showing that he was born in Honolulu, and yet many Republicans still don’t believe that President Obama was born there.

Curiously, those very same Republicans, in the absence of any good evidence at all, tend to believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But here are the facts:

  • Jesus never released his birth certificate.
  • The gospels were written 70-100 years after Jesus’s birth. 
  • We don’t know who the authors of the gospel stories recounting Jesus’s birth actually were (we have only guesses based on tradition and scholarly inference).
  • The gospel authors wrote in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic (the language of Jesus). This means that they were not only removed in time from Jesus’s birth, they were removed in language and (probably) geography.
  • The gospel authors appear confused about Jesus’s hometown. (Should we call him Jesus of Bethlehem or Jesus of Nazareth? Inquiring minds want to know.) 

Why don’t these facts matter concerning belief in Jesus’s location of birth? Below is Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Where’s Jesus’s?


About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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6 Responses to Critical Thinking Watch: A Lot of Conservatives Still Doubt Barack Obama was Born in Honolulu, but Few Doubt Jesus was Born in Bethlehem. How Come?

  1. I am a Christian. And I consider all political structure to be of very little consequence. I don’t care where obama was born. But I do care about what he stands firm for and against. Why would I care? Because he has the ability to either unite or divide this nation. But that is the extent of my attention he will receive.

    You are a teacher. So you’ve, no doubt, focused your attention in a specific manner. But perhaps you would do well to stick with your field of studh.

    I find something curious about your post. You’re firing at republicans and making the assumption that Jesus is their leader. I don’t recall Jesus making mention of His people being called republican. The word Christian simply intends to denote those who desire to be like Christ. And those who are called out from the world’s tendencies are called the “Church”. We are the “Called out ones”. The religion of Christianity will suffer loss by those who intend to be called something good. When, in fact, that is the only purpose they intend by adapting that name for themselves. Those who are called out are neither democrats of republicans. They are worshipers of Jesus.

    You assume that anything considered conservative must be Christian. Does that mean that anything liberal is demonic? In a fashion this is a compliment. But it is in error. By your post you stir up a divide between people. That is your intent. It is not simply a study in double standard. Your stiring will make no difference in the end. For we all suffer when the masses become divided in their desire for a peaceful future.

    I thought I took offence at your slam. Then I looked again into the face of my Lord. And realized that you were only moving your lips with noise. But your noise is not for building up, rather it is for tearing down. May the Lord I serve touch you with His understanding. If you are not His, then today is all you have. By the mercy of God I have been granted eternity. So for that reason I can be merciful to you. I do not take your attack against the name of my Lord personally. It is simply a natural out reach of the nature of man.

    By His Grace.

    • santitafarella says:


      I haven’t attacked Jesus at all. In fact, were Jesus alive perhaps he would appreciate the defense of him that I offered. Maybe the historic Jesus was born in neither Bethlehem nor Nazareth and would not agree that any of the stories about his birth, as told in the gospels 70-100 years after he was born, are true.

      What I’m asking for is any quality evidence of any sort on which to hang the widespread belief concerning where Jesus was born. Obviously, there is none, yet it is believed just the same.

      And that’s the irony of the recent dust up over Barack Obama’s birth certificate. A religious political party that does not question, or ask evidence for, the birth location of its religious founder, nevertheless asks for empirical evidence of the president’s birthplace.

      Otherwise, they won’t believe it. (In many cases, it’s quite evident they won’t believe even with evidence.)

      As for the Republican Party, unless you’ve been asleep over the past two decades, you ought to know that it is no longer a secular political party. It has morphed into an American religious sectarian political party (much like the sectarian religious parties in India).

  2. My point was simply, that there is a difference between religion and “The Faith”. Religion is used for a personal gain of some sort. Faith is being used for God’s gain. There is a difference, though those on the outside of “The Faith” are hard pressed to see it.

    • santitafarella says:


      I see the distinction that you are making, and I don’t think it is unreasonable to make a leap of faith in the direction of belief in God. As an agnostic and not a self-professed atheist, I do not claim to be obtuse to the ontological mystery (the mystery of being and existence), and to be drawn to theistic conclusions about it. But once you make that leap, call it what it is (a hope grounded in personal intuition, a hunch, not evidence). And hold that hope modestly, avoiding the factive verbs (such as “I know”, “I have discovered”, etc).

      Theists too frequently speak of religious matters as if they are a fait acompli. They act like they know what Jesus did, where he was born, what God wants, etc.

      My problem is with selective critical thinking and the dishonesty that comes from unwarranted confidence.


  3. I’m not interested in arguing fact vs personal testimony. Yet, for the sake of clarification, there is a place in the Christian quest where a person’s experience does become a personal proof. Perhaps leaving out the dynamic of things unprovable due to lost history. But we do experience an unspeakable guidance and presence. It’s not solely a reliance on hearsay or even Biblical text. There is “more” to the Christian experience than can be voiced. Thousands of genuine writers of this experience have voiced it in a million ways. And still we havn’t been able to nail down the whole of what we know. And I will readily admit that many use this more mysterious aspect to their advantage. Some run down the possibility of our experience. While others actually use it as leverage for their own personal adgenda. (In this you have rightly pointed to a majority of politicians.) Regardless. I just wanted to point out that those who endure by the strength received from the Lord are not to be compared to those who are caught in pretending. And there are a whole lot more of the latter.

    I won’t take up your time any further. I just replied to your initial post to clarify that point. I’m not being defensive. It’s just that, even in the Christian quarter, there is a lot of confusion caused by many who make the Lord into something He is not. And they do so with certain purposes in mind. At every place, those who know Him are constantly defending the substance of Jesus in His people. It’s not an attack. It’s more of an explanation. Unfortunately, it often turns into something more. This is not the way it should be for any serious believer. But we’re human also. A generalized dismissal of Christianity is not warranted by only noticing those who are liars. As it would not be kind nor wise to dismiss all men of science simply because they use test tubes. There are quality and quantifiable positive aspects in people who have experienced the Lord’s mercy. But these aspects rarely lend themselves to “proof”. Where we find the proof is usually in the negative qualities of liars and pretenders.

    By His Grace.

  4. santitafarella says:


    Obviously, you may characterize your degree of personal certainty about the meaning of your religious experience in any way that you like. If you say, for example, that your experience of Jesus is as obvious to you as is your direct perception of the color green, you are henceforth shielded from argument. You know, but can’t show it to others directly. In similar fashion, you can’t explain to a blind person what the color green is like, but you know that you experience it. It’s not a guess for you. So it is with your experience of Jesus. You may be blessed with an inner knowing not granted to all. The theologians that I have read (Plantinga at Notre Dame, etc) call this inner knowing faculty the sensus divinitatus—the sixth sense that can directly detect God. It’s like “Horton Hears a Who.” Some people have big God ears to hear the still small voice. Others don’t.

    That, at any rate, is the religious thesis, as I understand it.

    But please notice something. The fact that you have had such an experience is no warrant for me to believe it is what you think it is. Absent having it myself, what you speak of must be opaque to me (unfortunately). Furthermore, absent having a “direct knowing” experience like yours, there are no other solid evidentiary reasons for claiming to know anything certain about the historical Jesus.

    The best I can do at this point in my life is acknowledge my own inner sense of the ontological mystery: that beauty is truth, truth beauty, etc.

    I just don’t have any idea what the sense of the ontological mystery really is. Is it a real mystery or just a problem? Like the altar set up to the unknown God at Athens (in the Book of Acts), what’s behind that mystery, why does it hide itself, and, short of your inner witness, how do you know?


    PS: I once had a UFO abductee tell me exactly what you told me. Mormons who come to my door also make a similar claim (of inner knowing). How can you argue with someone whose experience is, like a tortoise in a tortoise shell, inaccessible to others?

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