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Wreck of the Titan

In 1898 Morgan Robertson wrote a novel titled Wreck of the Titan, or Futility.

This story shares many remarkable similarities to the real-life Titanic; from the ship’s design to its fateful maiden voyage.

The fascinating part is the story was written 14 years before the Titanic would set sail, before the Titanic had even been designed.

Some similarities between this fictional work and the actual facts surrounding the Titanic include:

  • The Titan was the largest ship in existance (800 feet, displacing 75,000 tons); the Titanic was the worlds largest luxury liner (882 feet, displacing 53,00 tons).
  • Both ships had a passenger capacity of 3000 people.
  • The Titan carried only 24 life boats; the Titanic carried 20. In both cases less than half the number required.
  • One April night, the Titan, travelling at 25 knots, struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic when they were 400 miles from Newfoundland; on April 14, 1912 the Titanic, travelling at 23 knots, struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic when they were 400 miles from Newfoundland.
  • The Titan sank and more than half of her 2500 passengers died; the Titanic sank and more than half of her 2208 passengers died.

Based on this, would it be reasonable for me to say that the Titanic wasn’t a real ship and that it’s fateful maiden voyage never happened?

Of course not, no one would take such a claim seriously (and rightfully so).

And yet, this is mirrors a popular attack against the New Testament’s teachings about Jesus.

One version of this argument states that Mithra (the god of Mithraism, which was a major religion in Rome) essentially mirrors many of the attributes we believe Jesus has – he was born of a virgin, had disciples, was crucified, rose from the dead on the third day, atoned for the sins of mankind and returned to heaven.

The argument goes on to assert that since such a deity was worshipped before Christ, that the disciples must have simply copied the Mithra stories and applied them to Jesus. This is then offered as evidence that the historical events and theological teachings recorded in the New Testament were fabricated.

While I believe there is good evidence that the similarities between Mithra and Jesus are overstated (if true at all), I don’t know that we really even need to deal with this argument to start with.

Even if we allow for the evidence of such similarities to stand unchallenged, what does that give us? I would suggest it doesn’t give us anything more than a Titan for our Titanic.

In the end, the veracity of the New Testament accounts must, and I argue do, stand on their own evidence; that someone told a similar story before the events occurred has no bearing one way or another on the question: is the New Testament true?