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Jesus is Dead, Elvis is Dead, and I Don’t Feel so Good Myself September 29, 2019

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Parables, Responses.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Lately I’ve heard a lot of apologists try to argue for the reliability of the NT accounts of Jesus.  And they seem flummoxed when non-believers are not willing to accept their assertions about this.  So instead of talking about the gospels for the moment, first I’d like to talk about Elvis Presley.

Elvis died back in 1977, mourned by millions of devoted fans. It was an embarrassing death – he died on the toilet, possibly while straining from extreme constipation, and perhaps exacerbated by years of drug abuse.   Some of his fans were unwilling to accept that he was dead, and insisted that he had faked his death.  Rumors of Elvis sightings started flying, that he was seen in grocery stores, and airports.  This was encouraged by the tabloids, proclaiming the latest sightings from every grocery store checkout.

    Cover from the Weekly World News 1991

There’s even a Wikipedia article about this phenomenon:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_sightings.  This was great fodder for late-night talk shows and mass-market books for a few years.

Now imagine, if you will, an especially devoted chapter of the “Elvis isn’t Dead” club.  They spend years telling everybody about Elvis, how great he was, and how he faked his own death.  They draw in new members over the years, and develop serious differences with other groups of Elvis fans about exactly what happened and what it all means.  After many years they decide that it would be a good idea to set out in writing their “official” version of the life and faked death of Elvis.  Now at this point, nobody in the group has ever met Elvis, or even seen a live concert.  They have some members who claim to have talked to somebody who knew somebody who knew one of his close friends.  They have some letters written by a founder of the group who says he once talked to Elvis down at the Piggly-Wiggly.  So one of the members asks around, collects some stories that people remember hearing, and writes a “life and not death” of Elvis, longhand, in a composition book.  A couple of other members read his version, and write their own versions based off of it, each adding the stuff that they think is important, and some stories they heard.  Then sometime later another member takes a stab at writing his own, and it’s not very similar to the others, and doesn’t even mention any songs.  These versions are handed down within the club, copied and recopied, always in longhand, and eventually the originals are lost, and the copies don’t exactly match each other any more and nobody remembers who wrote them.  They put the names of close friends of Elvis as the authors, to make them sound more reliable.

Oh, and to make this a better analogy, we are talking about a Japanese fan club chapter, and they are writing their accounts in a language that Elvis and his friends didn’t speak.

Imagine a few hundred years go by.  At this point the “Elvis Isn’t Dead” club has become a big institutional thing, and bears no resemblance to the original small fan clubs.  They have a big convention in Tokyo to work out their internal differences about who they think Elvis was, and their problems with the competing “Elvis Ain’t Dead” club and the “Elvis is Alive” club, who have their own opinions and their own handwritten books.  They decide what the official version of the story is, and order all the other versions to be suppressed.  They are still writing their own copies longhand, and will continue to do so for more than a thousand years.

Now jump forward to two thousand years after the “death” of Elvis.  And suppose everything we know about Elvis comes only from the materials passed down by the “Elvis Isn’t Dead” club, and no other sources.  We don’t have their original books, or the first copies of them, only later copies of copies of copies.   And of course we are reading a translation of Japanese material that was already a translation in the first place.  At that point, how much confidence could we have in what we know about the life of Elvis?  Could we be reasonably certain that we know anything?  The answer would have to be “No.”

And that’s where the apologists are with the reliability of their texts.  As long as they are using the bible to prop up the bible, without any confirmation from sources outside their fan club, they are no better off than the Gospel of the Elvis Isn’t Dead Club.

(Tip of the hat to Lewis Grizzard for the title of the post.)


1. Ben - September 29, 2019

Absolutely perfect analogy. Hard to argue with that logic…but some people still will.

Liked by 2 people

SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ - December 28, 2019

Indeed! Those people might as well claim that Elvis had been resurrected by God or Jesus.

Liked by 1 person

2. Nan - September 29, 2019

EXCELLENT!!! Bravo! 👍💖👏

Liked by 3 people

3. TheCovertAtheist - September 30, 2019

This analogy depicts Jesus and the NT gospels perfectly.

Liked by 3 people

4. treeoftalking - October 9, 2019

This is one of those pieces that makes me wish I had conceived this idea. Damn fine work.

Liked by 3 people

5. WayofCats (@WayofCats) - October 21, 2019

What a fantastic analogy. And the pics at the end were perfect 🙂

Liked by 2 people

captainsprocket - October 26, 2019

I thought so as well, until spotting Michael Jackson wearing TWO gloves. There is a heretic in our midst.

Liked by 1 person

Ubi Dubium - October 27, 2019

Michael Jackson? Where? According to the Elvis Isn’t Dead Club of the far distant future, that’s totally Elvis!

Liked by 1 person


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