argumentum ex silentio :
An argument which in many cases falsely derives from the “silence” or the lack of sources that something or someone didnt exist; or to frame it in more simple terms the claim that “because something can’t be proven it didnt exist”.
It is a fallacy as long as the historian doesn’t take into account which reasons there might be that there is no evidence or direct proof for something.
One has to put into consideration that :
– the transmission of sources is dependant from many factors : wars, catastrophes, disinterest, disadvantageous climatic conditions and vandalism destroy sources over the centuries and what is left to us are just traces from the past. Some sources are only fragmentary.
– So called traditional sources (written sources with the intention to transmit historical events to ensuing ages) are subjective and selective.
An author only mentions in them what he knows of, what he is interested in, and what is relevant to him regarding the intention of the text he is creating. He might also deliberately surpress information.
What people who claim Jesus didnt exist because his existence can’t be proven always forget is that
1. they would need to invent a theory which explains plausibly where the oral tradition in the NT is derived from. Why would people with the intent to rule the world and gain money invent a person like Jesus and put words into his mouth against the accumulation of wealth and against social hierachies ?
2. “Jesus didnt exist because he can’t be proven” (an argumentum ex silentio) is a stupid argument for any historian.
“Josephus Flavius can’t be considered proof because he isn’t an eye witness” sounds stupid in the ears of any historian as well, because a secondary source can indeed transmit valuable information on the past.
3. When Jesus didn’t exist because there are no eye witness accounts of him does that mean that Herode the great and his tetrach sons also didn’t exist because there are no eye witness acounts of them but only Josephus writing about them decades later ? Did Josphus just invent all of that people and events he describes ?
4. Why aren’t there any eye witness accounts of Herode, John the Baptist and Pontius Pilate ? We know about them only through JF and Philo of Alexandria who are no eye witnesses. One should think Herode the great being an important ruler should have evoced more texts concering him.
5. Why do supporters of the “Jesus myth theory” plainly ignore the Jewish wars and the destruction of the temple at 70 AD ?
Isn’t that up to the fact they never read a reputable publication on the historical Jesus and the time he lived in ?
Would’t a desastrous war like the fight against the Romsns explain why we a lot of sources have been destroyed at that time and therefore could’t have been transmitted to us ?
Didn’t the scripts of Qumran only survive because they got hidden before the Romans could destroy the parish of the Qumran people ?
This is the reasoning a historian will do considering the state of things.
The arguments the myth theorists come up with are plainly pseudoscientific and show their lack of knowledge regarding historical research methods.