Friday, June 03, 2011

Darek Barefoot replies to Richard Carrier

A redated post.

Darek Barefoot has posted a defense of my book against Carrier's criticisms on the Secular Web. I've spent a fair amount of time responding to Carrier, but I really think he doesn't give the best responses to my arguments that a naturalist can produce. However, when someone put as much into a response as Carrier did, it does deserve a good response.


Anonymous said...

“Granted that there is an argument for mental affects, what would a physical event caused by a mental event look like? It would look like an event for which sufficient physical cause is lacking. The mental cause would be invisible to sensory observation. The only way to "see" the mental event would be to experience it from the perspective of the mind in which it occurs. We do, as it happens, experience causally effective mental events. And physical effects for which physical causes are inadequate, though strange to contemplate, are not beyond reason.”

Never experienced a a causally effective mental event myself. What does it feel like to you?
It really shouldn’t be that hard to devise an experiement in which a sufficient physical cause is lacking and a mental cause can be used to explain the outcome. For instance, lifting a ball into the air with one’s thoughts only, or bending spoons without touching them. I think Duke University back in the 60’s and 70’s ran numerous such experiements with dismal results.

JD Walters said...

It is quite an excellent response. Barefoot seems to have a good grasp of philosophy of science. I wonder if Carrier will respond to the response?

Victor Reppert said...

There's some discussion on this on DI2

Victor Reppert said...

Will Carrier respond. Don't know, but if he does, you can bet it will be at length!

Victor Reppert said...

Having looked at this piece it looks like a serious extension and defense of the AFR, and not simply a chronicling of Carrier's mistakes.

Edward T. Babinski said...

On Barefoot's paper,

I'd like to count up all the bald assertions and/or arguments based on analogy (which prove nothing).

Or the way mysteries and questions are never left as mysteries and questions but resolved in a theistic manner, or even a substance dualistic manner.

But then, there are also physicalist Christian philosophers who would disagree with many of Barefoot's assertions and arguments as much as Carrier does.

Isn't philosophy wonderful?

Let me just ask whether or not anyone here can tell me where memories are stored. Are they stored in the brain? Or in a supernatural sphere? Or both? (Please feel free to email me.)

There is a lot of research going on concerning how memories function in the brain.

As for Platonism, it seems at odds with a scientific view of the world. Take the electromagnetic spectrum. The colors of light lay along a continuum, as do all other forms of measurable energy. The world in that sense, does not consist of easily defined archetypes, but of a spectrum of energies and sensations of an extremely wide range. And it would appear that the brains of different organisms perceive such energies and place them (in "Platonic" fashion) into discrete categories based on each species' brains and perception apparatuses, i.e., honeybees see the ultra-violent range and we do not.

Or take the word, "chair." Is it a Platonic category? I can imagine a continuous series running from chairs to sofas to divans to tables. I can also imagine chairs with three, two and even one leg, or even no legs, such as a swing, or a cushion of air jets, or simply a rock to lean most of your rump up against and support at least 50% of your weight. What is a "chair" then in Platonism?

And have you read David Stove's _The Plato Cult_?

Edward T. Babinski

Edward T. Babinski said...

Darek Barefoot is also the author of a paper on the Secular Web, "The Riddle of the Four Faces: Solving an Ancient Mystery" in which he argued that the four faces of the cherbim in Ezekiel (human, lion, ox/bull, eagle), not only presaged the four Christian Gospels, but that those faces correspond to the Christian Gospels in such a way that only God could have preordained such correspondence. My what a mystery solver Darek is! And what a marvelous proof he has come up with of the Bible's inspiration. Or not. Since faces contain a plethora of possible points of correspondence with other things.

Richard Burridge, dean of King's College in London (and author of Four Gospels, One Jesus?) wrote an entire book about the traditional Christian ascription of each cherubim's face to represent each Gospel's picture of Jesus, though he did not press his sermon-like analogical approach so far as to make it an argument or proof of divine foresight.

In fact he mentions in his book that Ezekiel would have known of images and statues of semi-divine animals in the ancient Near East, especially from Babylon, where the god Nergal was a "winged lion," Marduk a "winged bull," Nabu a human being, and Ninurta an "eagle." What Ezekiel appears to be doing is simply discounting the Babylonian worship of such creatures as gods in themselves, making them rather, servants of HIS God.

Lions have been known proverbially then as king of the beasts, bulls as king of the domestic beasts, eagles as king of the birds, and human beings as rulers and hunters of those animals. That explains the creatures held for the ancients as well.

Lions, oxen and cherubim were even on the basin stands in the Hebrew Temple, though no eagle.

So Ezekiel's "vision" has plenty of direct associations suited to his own day and interests to promote his god, contrasting it with that of the creatures worshiped as gods by the Babylonians.

Rev. 4 drew upon Ezekiel's four face-symbols as well. Christians later took them up as symbols of the four Evangelists, and as "visual teaching aids" (Burridge's words), though Christians didn't necessarily all agree on which symbol should be used to best represent which Gospel. *smile*

A firmer form of distinguishing the four Gospels from one another would be to study them first, and notice what they each emphasize, like Mark's Suffering Servant Jesus whose life and miracles parallel those of Elijah, John's Heavenly Son of Man, Matthew's comparison of Jesus with Moses, and Luke's emphasis on Jesus as prophet.

I would therefore suggest books to Darek like The Changing Faces of Jesus by Geza Vermes.

Or, The Teaching Company's lectures on The New Testament that note the themes (mentioned above) of each Gospel, the lecturer being Luke Timothy Johnson (a Catholic biblical scholar), and the recognition of such themes does not involve having to link either a human or three animal faces with each Gospel.

I think it much liklier than Darek's hypothesis can be explained via the plethora of possible associations of each type of face, human and animal. Thus someone seeking correspondences might easily be fooled by one's own imaginative proclivities into thinking one had "solved" some great mystery--like seeing faces in clouds, or like playing an ingenious dispensationalist game of "match the latest newspaper headline with the end-time-related-verse from Revelation or Ezekiel."

Johnson's course on the New Testament Gospels at The Teaching Company explains what the themes of each Gospel are, in and of themselves, without having to relate them to a human or animal face.

Darek Barefoot said...


The article you cite above is on a subject still of interest to me, but is off topic for this blog. That piece was published as a feature by several years ago and anyone who wants can look it up. Several objections to it were raised an answered by me in the feedback section for May-June of 2000 ( Richard Carrier refers to it in his article on the formation of the New Testament Canon, which is also easy to find on the Secular Web. Anyone who wants more information about it can contact me via the email link at the bottom of my most recent essay.