John Loftus posted an argument that Dr Richard Carrier has included in his upcoming book, claiming that the Bible's truthfulness is discredited by the claim that Darkness covered the world for three hours while Jesus was alive and on the cross and there is no other record of it happening. Here is what Loftus posted.
I've received an uncorrected advance reading copy of Richard Carrier's book Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. I'll say more about it later after I've finished reading it. But he highlights a serious problem for inerrantists that I'd like to share. In chapter three he evaluates the claim of the gospels that at the death of Jesus "there was darkness over the whole world from the sixth hour until the ninth" (Mark 15:33; Matthew 27:45; Luke 23:44-45). If it was meant to be taken literally per Luke, who claims it was an eclipse of the sun ("...for the sun stopped shining"), it could not have happened.
Why? Because a three hour eclipse over the whole world is scientifically impossible. They only last a few minutes, not three hours. They do not cover the whole earth at the same time either, since they only cover parts of it as earth revolves. An eclipse additionally could not have occurred during the Passover, for the Passover was always celebrated during the full moon. This means the moon was on the opposite side of the earth from the sun at that time. Lastly, the entire world at the time had its astrologer/astronomers and not one of them mentioned it. Carrier writes, "This is a slam dunk argument...establishing beyond any reasonable doubt the non-historicity of this solar event."
One of the comments on the post bears careful scrutiny because it attempts to deal with Christian answers to the objection Carrier and Loftus are trying to run up the proverbial flag pole:
I have indeed heard this defense against the charge that the darkness did not happen. Ironically, extian states the argument better than Loftus does. .Three of the four gospels say it did. Let's look at the passages.
33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. - Mark 15:3345 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. - Matthew 27:4544 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. - Luke 23:44-45
The sun not shining is definitely not an eclipse. I would not go that far as throwing out the account. I think that no one has enough data to say that it didn't happen and therefore throwing out the Gospels is not just not warranted but silly. I'm amazed how much much weight is being given to Dr Richard Carrier. Loftus does not make it clear whether he is stating that the darkness was caused by an eclipse or is it just him saying that. Either way, it greatly undermines the argument against the Gospel accounts because none of them say it was an eclipse.
Debunking Christianity: Richard Carrier On The Eclipse of the Sun At The Death of Jesus