Answers in Genesis has a new article in their "journal" all about the discrimination that enemies of the Big Bang (allegedly) face. I was actually surprised to see that they advocated exploring alternative cosmologies which would actually harm Christianity if they were true (The Steady State Theory, which calls for an eternal Universe).
Anyway, I dug up an article by Richard Carrier which gives an honest evaluation of the evidence for and against the Big Bang. Carrier even concurs with AiG that there is some discrimination going on in Cosmology.
However, in the end Carrier concludes that the Big Bang is well supported by many lines of evidence and that the "evidence against" the Big Bang is very meager and unlikely to falsify every possible way the Big Bang may have taken place.
I found it interesting to read the beginning of Carrier's article, when he talked about how Cosmologists would not explain or defend the Big Bang Theory in detail, or would tell him that the evidence was too much for him to understand.
I found an interesting symmetry here between Carrier's experience with cosmologists and my experience with Jesus historicists. The JHers offer very meager evidence for their hypothesis (which can often have a very different interpretation than the one which they give it). For example, in one of John Shelby Spong's books he offers the fact that Jesus lived in Nazareth as evidence for the historicity of Jesus. He argues that a small rural area like Nazareth isn't the kind of place you would want your messiah to be born. So this fact is not to be expected if Jesus was invented. But is to be expected if Jesus really did exist and this really was his hometown.
I find this evidence very weak. I mean, plenty of heroes in the movies are born in small towns. The fact that someone grows up in such an ordinary place helps ordinary people relate to the hero. Besides, as Bart Ehrman has noted in Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene (Pages 225-226), the gospel writers have a tendency to want to show that God takes the weak things of this world and transforms them into something greater.
It also reminded me of some of the past exchanges I have had with Dr. James McGrath. McGrath is a smart guy, no doubt, and obviously knows magnitudes more about Christian History than I do. But I found his argument for a historical Jesus to be weak. He argues that crucifixion was not expected of the messiah and that crucifixion was so shameful that no one would have made it up.
But a study of the Bible, as well as the culture of the time, seems to me to show both of these contentions wrong. First of all, I have a book called "All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible" and it (unwittingly) shows that almost all of the gospel stories are fashioned after Old Testament legends. Of course, the author argues that these are prophecies, but I find that suspicious in light of the fact that OT scriptures often appear to be taken out of context in the gospels ("Out of Egypt I have called my son" did not originally refer to Jesus).
At the beginning of Romans Paul says,
"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son..."
It looks very much as if the early Christians thought that Jesus life was either revealed by or to
be interpreted through Old Testament Scriptures. When we look at Psalm 22 we can easily see why the early Christians would have invented a crucifixion (and death) for Jesus: They thought it was in the scripture.
As for the alleged embarrassment of the crucifixion, it does not mean that it must be true. The worshippers of Attis believed that he died of castration (and this allegedly caused disgust to their fellow countrymen) but no one in their right mind would argue that Attis was real. See page 13 of this document.
McGrath has argued that Jesus was not a dying and rising god, but rather, a dying and rising messiah, but that won't cut it: It is very clear that the gospel stories were influenced by stories of Roman gods, and I cite primary sources for that here.
So, I'd like to see Dr. McGrath either admit that the argument from embarassment is wrong, or explain to me why I am wrong. Will he do it? Stay tuned.