Monday, December 17, 2012

Some Reasons why Christianity Makes Sense to Me

A redated post.

I wrote a comment on Debunking Christianity that I would like to share here.

Victor wrote: If this is a reason to reject the maxim of my undergraduate philosophy teacher (an atheist) "You ought to believe what you already believe, unless you have evidence that what you believe is not true," then I wouldn't endorse that kind of skepticism.

Scott replied: The problem with applying this maxim to a particular religious belief is the means in which you've acquired that belief and the inability to provide clear evidence that your belief is not true. It's as if you've thrown up your hands and claimed you're stuck with your belief since there is no other method in which you could attempt to identify whether it is factual or not.

VR: No. I have considered evidence for and against theism, and for and against Christianity. I just don't know if real neutrality is possible or even desirable. That's my only beef.

I think naturalism is self-refuting because it is inconsistent with the fact that human beings perceive logical relationship and act on that basis. If they were purely physical systems in a purely physical world, this would not be possible. We could not literally do mathematics, which is the very foundations of the science on which naturalism rests its case. If naturalism is true, then there are no scientists, and there is no scientific method, and we're all epistemically screwed.

In fact it's a little amazing to me that someone could accept the outsider test for faith and not accept the argument from reason against naturalism. The OTF says that if our religious views have sociological causes, they aren't rational, which suggests to me that atheists must have purely rational causes for their beliefs. But if naturalism is true, then everyone has natural, physical causes for all beliefs, and this got to be ten times more damaging than sociological causes. If naturalism is true, then there is no real mental causation, just physical causation that mimics mental effects.

I think that Christian theism has some problems in the area of the problem of evil, but these are not worse problems than naturalists have in explaining consciousness, for example. Atheists argue that if theism is true, then there would be no suffering, but if naturalistic atheism is true, there can only be pain behavior, not real pain, because pain is a subjective qualia that has no place in the naturalistic world of objective physical states. Hence, if naturalistic atheism is true, then there should be no suffering either.

I am amazed at how monotheism could have taken hold of the mind of the people of Israel, after a long struggle with paganism, and that the little nation of Judah could have escaped dispersion from the Assyrians, which would have destroyed that nation's identity permanently. To the ancient mind, it was a lot easier to be a polytheist than to be a monotheist. How could this have been reversed in an tiny and otherwise nondescript country like Israel, when it did not happen anywhere else? Not in Greece, not in Egypt, not in Babylonia, and not in Rome.

I have yet to see an account of the beginnings of Christianity that is any better than the one that Christians offer. If there were not miracles, then how do you get a bunch of people firmly convinced that Jesus rose from the dead and getting in the faces of the Jewish and Roman establishment to spread that belief? What happened to these people? How could Jews start accepting an incarnate deity? How could they change the Sabbath, and not try to apply the Jewish Law to Gentile converts? Mass hallucinations, and then their biggest persecutor, Saul of Tarsus gets one? Just a coincidence?

How do you explain the intimate, detailed familiarity that Luke shows with the Mediterranean world if he was never a companion of Paul and didn't see what he wrote about? I don't even know how many people are on the city council of the nearby cities of Avondale or Glendale here in the Phoenix area. But Luke provides this kind of detail, and the archaeology backs him up time after time.

No other religion has the kind of archaeological support that Christianity does. Have they found that battleground in Palmyra, New York, where the book of Mormon says a huge battle took place? Thought not. Is there a good DNA match between Jews and American Indians? You mean they look more like Orientals? Who witnessed Muhammad reciting and transmitting the Qu'ran?

I even think that there are present-day miracles that provide evidence for God. We had some discussion of that on Dangerous Idea as well.

Now if you say "Anything but the Supernatural" this may all seem irrational to you. But maybe some naturalists need to take the Outsider Test and see how things look from the perspective that miracles are possible. I could argue that you have been brainwashed by the scientific establishment to rules these possiblities out. But I won't. The world just makes more sense from the perspective of Christian theism than it does from any other perspective.

193 comments:

normajean said...

Gosh, this is a really really good post! Thanks for this perspective, Victor!

John W. Loftus said...

Victor, without first defining the type of Christianity you defend here, Christian people can read this post and agree totally, thinking you defens their specific view. But you don't, and you know it.

Which Christianity are you defending? Get specific. Liberal, moderate, or conservative? Calvinist? Catholic? "Cultic"? Snake Handlers? KKK? Fred Phelps? You see, until you flesh out the details you are not defending a generalized Christianity at all, but a localized one. And if you think a generalized Christianity is good enough then that also takes a position with regard to a more inclusivistic faith, which other believers reject.

John W. Loftus said...

Several links for further thought:

On the AFR people should consider this book by Beversluis. I think he does a good answering you.

As far as how Christianity originated I think I've solved that puzzle.

Why I reject Christianity can be partially seen in my Internet Infidels essay.

Why I reject the Bible as God's word can be seen right here.

The real reason why you believe is because, as I have previously written about Bill Craig, he was raised in a Christian culture and was appraoched by kind, joyous people. From that moment onward the blinders were on his eyes.

Cheers.

J.L. Hinman said...

ok how did Luke know the area so well if he wasn't' there? that's easy, he looked it up. He went to the public library and got on the net and looked up a map. That's all he needed to do.

J.L. Hinman said...

Victor, without first defining the type of Christianity you defend here, Christian people can read this post and agree totally, thinking you defens their specific view. But you don't, and you know it.

John! come on man that's not a valid argument.

Which Christianity are you defending? Get specific. Liberal, moderate, or conservative? Calvinist? Catholic? "Cultic"? Snake Handlers? KKK? Fred Phelps? You see, until you flesh out the details you are not defending a generalized Christianity at all, but a localized one. And if you think a generalized Christianity is good enough then that also takes a position with regard to a more inclusivistic faith, which other believers reject.

totally invalid. you don't do logic like that. His comments apply to any view that until they don't apply to a specific view.

Kyle said...

John,
You should try attacking his arguments instead of bringing up an objection that doesn't really apply to the post. His arguments aren't specific as to justify him having to defend particular doctrines against other Christians when this post doesn't specify any of those doctrines that would separate the groups you mentioned. I think it's pretty obvious that these arguments are all supportive of a normative, Nicene Christianity.

If instead he were to say that devout Muslims aren't destined for hell, or that regeneration preceeds faith, or some other particular doctrine as to separate himself out as a particular Christian, then he should defend that view. As posted though, the demand for a specification of doctrinal belief doesn't follow.

J.L. Hinman said...

Why I reject the Bible as God's word can be seen right here.

The real reason why you believe is because, as I have previously written about Bill Craig, he was raised in a Christian culture and was appraoched by kind, joyous people. From that moment onward the blinders were on his eyes.


I really have no idea why atheits think that's some kind of big disproof.

why do I like Ingmar Bergman? Because my brother and my best friend "turned me on" (that's an old way we used to speak it means they taught me) that he was the best filmmaker. So that he's not right? Because if you are taught soemthing then it must be false.

My father taught me algebra, so that must be wrong I guess? But unfortunately I was not the most apt student for him to teach.

If things are wrong because they are taught then maybe the valid reason for believing something is becasue you experince it? (I know Craig has had religous experinces). But no atheists don't accept that eitehr.

I guess the only valid reason is if it squares with logic. The problem there is everytime I show an atheist that it squares with logic he starts telling me I'm stupid and that it can't possibly square and that logic doesn't tell us anthing.


So really what I think it all comes down to is that atheists have no actual of epistemic justification and they just move form one methodology to another depending upon what methodology a theist evokes.

John W. Loftus said...

Joe said...totally invalid. you don't do logic like that. His comments apply to any view that until they don't apply to a specific view.

I disagree. You and he do not share the same kind of Christianity. I mean really, do you want to say that you are all Muslims because you share a common belief that a God exists who created the universe? I think not.

We'd have to flesh out what is essential of course, but what do you do with people who disagree on the essentials, like the King James only crowd? Write them off? Discount them? What about "baptism (immersion) is essential" folks? They do not recognize anyone else as Christians and will not associate with others who aren't baptized. Do you also write them off?

John W. Loftus said...

Kyle said...I think it's pretty obvious that these arguments are all supportive of a normative, Nicene Christianity.

You do realize that what you think is the Nicene Creed is not the original Nicene Creed, don't you?

And surely you know the story of the church battles over this view and how luck had it who won, right?

See When Jesus Became God.

You can believe if you want to, but please become informed, okay?

J.L. Hinman said...

Joe said... "totally invalid. you don't do logic like that. His comments apply to any view that until they don't apply to a specific view."

John:I disagree. You and he do not share the same kind of Christianity. I mean really, do you want to say that you are all Muslims because you share a common belief that a God exists who created the universe? I think not.


I think you have a misconception about what it means to be in a religious tradition. You seem to think that all Christian belief cancels all Muslim belief so there can't be an continuity between the two. That's false. Why can't there be coincidental truths that overlap two or more traditions?

If Muslims beileve that 2 + 2 = 4 and I believe that too (in base 10 ok) does that mean we have created a third religion?


We'd have to flesh out what is essential of course, but what do you do with people who disagree on the essentials, like the King James only crowd? Write them off?

see the problem is you want a big king's X. you want this to be the big negating principle that wipes out the possibility of all religious truth, and it's based upon the concept that there can't be any overlaps between traditions and that's just silly.

two huge mistakes in logic here. Treating religious traditions like they demarcate separate worlds and membership in a tradition as though it's equivalent to knowing all truth. You don't have to believe that possess all truth to be a Christian.

the second one is you want to make all religious beliefs mutually exclusive even between Christian denominations, as though Baptists and Methodists are not just two types of Christians but totally separate religions that don't share any kind of communality.



Discount them? What about "baptism (immersion) is essential" folks? They do not recognize anyone else as Christians and will not associate with others who aren't baptized. Do you also write them off?


Rupert's argument did not involve any specific doctrines that would demarcate any specific religious tradition, accept Christian belief in general.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
No other religion has the kind of archaeological support that Christianity does. Have they found that battleground in Palmyra, New York, where the book of Mormon says a huge battle took place?

CARR
Have they found Arimathea yet, where the Gospels say Joseph came from?

Have they found Mary Magdalene yet, or Lazarus or Nicodemus or Bartimaeus or Martha or Judas, or the other Mary or Salome or Joanna?

John W. Loftus said...

Joe said...why do I like Ingmar Bergman? Because my brother and my best friend "turned me on" (that's an old way we used to speak it means they taught me) that he was the best filmmaker. So that he's not right? Because if you are taught soemthing then it must be false.

No Joe, it's much worse than that. It's not that such beliefs are false. It's that, well, if you or Victor were raised in different homes and had different experiences and read different books, and studied under different professors, and got teaching appointments in different places then you could both be atheist philosophers and/or theologians right now.

That's how bad it is when it comes to anyone who claims to know the truth, and that's how bad it is when it comes to the claim that we as human beings can think outside the box and reason correctly, objectively and dispassionately without prejudices or preconceived notions. We can't, or at least, if we can, the only thing we can and should trust is the empirical sciences. That's our only hope. Science is the best we've got, and even science has it's problems.

Kyle said...

"On the AFR people should consider this book by Beversluis. I think he does a good answering you."

And of course, they shouldn't forget to remember to read Victor's responses which do a good job of answering Beversluis.

"As far as how Christianity originated I think I've solved that puzzle."

Or, instead of reading a short blog article, they should see what experts in the appropriate fields have to say. Here are a few examples that agree with normative Christianity:

Beginning from Jerusalem by James D. G. Dunn

Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity by Larry Hurtado (head of Christian Origins Dept. at Edinburgh)

The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark (written while he was still an agnostic)

Jesus and the Ossuaries: What Jewish Burial Practices Reveal About the Origins of Christianity by Craig Evans

Of course, there are thousands more, but most require library access since they are usually very expensive (as most books with specialized knowledge are).

J.L. Hinman said...

And surely you know the story of the church battles over this view and how luck had it who won, right?


there's a lot of mythical hogwash about the councils. Don't tell me subscribe to those old bs tales about they turned otu the lights and stole the books they didn't like and all that stuff?

nothing like that can be substantiated with historical methods.

you are playing this game of tryign to use creeds some kind of negation factor that invalidates itself because its some iron clad thing like a contract that you can't get out of. It's very strange way of looking at things.

John W. Loftus said...

Joe said...there's a lot of mythical hogwash about the councils. Don't tell me subscribe to those old bs tales about they turned otu the lights and stole the books they didn't like and all that stuff?

And you could not be an atheist philosopher or Atheologian right now, too, eh?

We believe what we want to. It's really bad. It's terrible. We humans are illogical creatures, especially when it comes to these issues. There can be no AFR when we are like this, either.

Steven Carr said...

The Book of Mormon , the Koran and the New Testament all contain stories lifted, adapted and plagiarised from the Old Testament

David Whitmer testified that he had seen the Golden Plates and he went to his grave, demanding that his testimony be put on his tombstone.

This evidence for Mormonism is worthless, as Victor knows, but it is 1000 times stronger than the evidence for Christianity?

Did any person write, naming himself as somebody who saw an empty tomb?


Did any person write, naming himself as somebody who saw Simon of Cyrene, Philip, Thomas, Judas, any one of the women at the tomb etc etc?

J.L. Hinman said...

Or, instead of reading a short blog article, they should see what experts in the appropriate fields have to say. Here are a few examples that agree with normative Christianity:

lol.

I was in debate (NFL/NDT policy debate). There was an anecdote about a team that used to go "we don't have time to answer all the plan attacks but they are answered in our plan, we don't have time to read it but the evidence is here." Someone took his whole file box up to the podium and said "I have the evidence to destroy their case, I don't have time to read it but tis' in here. You can read it latter."

I think a lot of John but sometimes his methods begin to remind me of that story.

I understand why he does it. It's all for the Lurkers, he's not going to convince you. That's ok but there are times when you need to put up the argument and put your cards on the table so to speak.

Kyle said...

"You do realize that what you think is the Nicene Creed is not the original Nicene Creed, don't you?"

and

"You can believe if you want to, but please become informed, okay?"

Hey, don't you have "the equivalent" of a Ph.D.? Didn't you study under William Lane Craig? Doesn't Norm Geisler love your book? Your arrogance preceeds you.

Once again, your argument doesn't follow. I never mentioned the origins of the Nicene Creed. I stated that his arguments were in line with normative, Nicene Christianity.

I know the origins of the Creed (or at least what we can know). Despite your arrogant (although ignorant) response of my education, I've actually read Rubenstein, Ehrman and plenty of others. I've even read the old guys like Walter Bauer and their critics. I've read the guys you suggest reading, and their arguments simply do not withstand their critiques.

So I do believe...and I'm also informed. They surprisingly go hand in hand in my experience.

J.L. Hinman said...

The Book of Mormon , the Koran and the New Testament all contain stories lifted, adapted and plagiarised from the Old Testament

that's a fallacious understanding of religious tradition. This atheist game of trying to play one tradition against another is just the old divide and conquer. It's based upon a fallacious understanding of what religious traditions are.

The OT was the tradition in which the NT guys lived and worked. Sot they had a perfect right to barrow from that tradition becasue they were part of it.

The Mormons were part of the Christian tradition, but they were also willing to step outside of it. The Christians didn't step outside the OT traditions, they evolved out of it.

The Mormons broke within (by imposing a second cannon) but then tried to pretend they hadn't broken but co opted.

But hey don't look now Stevie but you are begging the question on the Mormon thing anyway.

John W. Loftus said...

Joe said...Someone took his whole file box up to the podium and said "I have the evidence to destroy their case, I don't have time to read it but tis' in here. You can read it latter."

This is true, of course. It's undeniable, obvious and non-controversial, not laughable at all. To think this is laughable is, well, just laughable to me. You simply are ignorant at this point. You don't understand, and that too is undeniable and obvious and non-controversial.

Let me put it to you this way, if you read everything that I had read and experienced everything that I have experienced, then you would think on these issues exactly the same way I do.

Deny this.

So there is only one way to deal with a whole way of looking at these things...by treating them as a whole. And the only way to do that is to ask people to read a whole bunch of books and essays. But they will not want to read them. They will not trust the authors. They will think the authors are wrong from the get-go.

Therein lies the dilemna and I think I have a handle on this better than anyone I've seen argue on the web about these types of issues...by far.

We are not the rational creatures we want to appear to be. We as human beings are in terrible shape on these kinds of issues.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
How could Jews start accepting an incarnate deity?

CARR
Yes, just how did Paul spend weeks in synagogues without being killed as a blasphemer after 20 minutes?

But not even Acts or Paul's letters have any hint that Jews were in the least upset by Christians claiming that a recently incarnated man was God made flesh.

In fact, Romans 10 says the reason Israelites had not converted was because they had never heard of Jesus, apart from the preaching of Christian preachers sent to teach about him.

And even then, the preaching about Jesus was what was being rejected, not Jesus himself, or the resurrection or the miraculous events, of which Paul refers to none.....

According even to Acts, a miracle like making a lame man walk was 'outstanding' and was the talk of Jerusalem, causing many people to follow Peter and John.

And yet Jesus is alleged to have raised people from the dead, without Jerusalem turning Christian.

Not to mention all these resurrected saints alleged to have risen from their graves and appeared to 'many' in the city.

If any of that had happened, then it makes a nonsense of Acts 3 where the Jewish leaders are scared stiff because of one miracle - a miracle which is trivial by comparison, and yet seems to be the only one they have ever heard of.

Are these stories even supposed to make sense?

Steven Carr said...

Hinman throws up a rationalisation to explain away why it is not wrong when Christians do it, but wrong when Joseph Smith or Muhammad did it.

The old 'My religion is not subject to the outsider tests that I apply to other religions' excuse....

The old 'Other religions are frauds, but my religion is not, even when it does the same thing as other religions do' excuse.

Just look at what the Christians did.

In Mark 8:23-25, Jesus cures blindness by spitting on eyes, although the cure does not work first time. Matthew and Luke drop this miracle ,as it was embarrasing. Matthew also drops the other account of Jesus spitting, in Mark 7:33-35. Matthew also drops a healing of a demoniac in Mark 1:25-27.

This left a problem for Matthew in that he was short of people healed as compared to Mark.

So he simply doubled up the number of people healed in the healings he did take over from Mark. In Matthew 20:29-34 , he doubles the number of blind people healed, compared to Mark 10:46-52.

This was almost certainly to make up for dropping Mark 8:23-25, as the word for eyes that Matthew uses in 20:34 (ommata) is only used here and in Mark 8:23, so this is Matthew's way of getting 'ommata' healed without having to say that Jesus spat on someone's face.

Because Matthew has left out one healing of a demoniac from Mark's Gospel, (Mark 1:24-29) , he doubles the numbers healed in Matthew 8:28-34 as compared with Mark 5:1-20 and imports the question from Mark 1:24 into Matthew 8:29, as he did not want to drop the story entirely.

It seems that the Gospellers believed that the miracle stories were malleable and could be edited and changed to suit their purposes. If they could do so, what credence can we put on their accounts?

But Hinman says Christians are allowed to do such things, and it is not fraud, not like when Mormons or Muslims do it...

Steven Carr said...

CARR
And even then, the preaching about Jesus was what was being rejected, not Jesus himself, or the resurrection or the miraculous events, of which Paul refers to none

CARR
To clarify, before Hinman makes a mountain out of a molehill, Paul never mentions the resurrection in Romans 10 as something that was being explicitly rejected by the Israelites ie as a public miracle that had to be explained away.

In Romans 10, the main reason Paul gives for Israelites not being converted was that they had never heard of Jesus, which is why Christians were being sent to preach about him.

Blip said...

"No Joe, it's much worse than that. It's not that such beliefs are false. It's that, well, if you or Victor were raised in different homes and had different experiences and read different books, and studied under different professors, and got teaching appointments in different places then you could both be atheist philosophers and/or theologians right now."

And if you didn't give into your sins, you'd still be a Christian apologist right now?

John W. Loftus said...

It doesn't take very long for idiot Christians to start throwing around ad hominems when they don't want to deal with my arguments.

That's what it is.

Idiocy.

And that's what it takes for them to believe.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post by Victor.

Sloppy, desperate responses by the local atheists. And of course John Loftus showing what happens when his back is yet again put to the wall: Empty attacks.

Sorry, guys, but you're going to have to wake up and smell the coffee on this one: You may think that your atheism places you in a superior position to all other beliefs, but it isn't the case. And Victor provides great reason for rejecting naturalism even before accepting Christianity (The AfR and other arguments don't only work if you accept Christianity, you know.)

You can still be an atheist, of course. Just recognize the heaping spoonful of (ungrounded) faith that goes with it. ;)

Anonymous said...

New Testament Christianity rests on the Old Testament as it's foundation. Having read through the Old Testament, all I see is a petty, brutal, warlike tribal deity. If I were a loving, merciful God I would be ashamed to call the Hebrew Bible my Word.

Further, I simply cannot accept the concept of the Trinity as the least bit rational. Even if I were to accept that the Creator raised Jesus from the dead, I simply cannot accept the Incarnation of Jesus as fully God. The thought of God being an embryo in Mary's womb sounds absurd to me. Did Jesus have to learn to walk and talk like other toddlers? Was he teaching about the Kingdom of God at age two? It is all too surreal.

Peace.
The Agnostic Deist

Finney said...

"Which Christianity are you defending? Get specific. Liberal, moderate, or conservative? Calvinist? Catholic? "Cultic"? Snake Handlers? KKK?"

Liberal/moderate/conservative is a political stance. They're found in every denomination of Christianity. KKK is not a theological version of Christianity. And I don't see why he needs to defend his particular sort. He wants to defend the basic beliefs of Christians, and that's all his arguments logically point to.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
Who witnessed Muhammad reciting and transmitting the Qu'ran?

CARR
Who witnesses Jesus ascending into the sky and disappearing into a cloud on his way to Heaven?

Rob G said...

"And surely you know the story of the church battles over this view and how luck had it who won, right?

See When Jesus Became God."

And surely you know, John, that this is not the only take on those church battles? Besides the books mentioned above by Kyle, you can also check out works by such scholars as Jaroslav Pelikan, John Behr, and Brian Daley.

In any case, the retort that all versions of Christianity don't agree with one another is a dodge. It excuses the critic from doing the historical and theological homework necessary to identify what is true "mere" Christianity.

"Therein lies the dilemna and I think I have a handle on this better than anyone I've seen argue on the web about these types of issues...by far."

and

"We are not the rational creatures we want to appear to be. We as human beings are in terrible shape on these kinds of issues."

These two statements are mutually exclusive unless you exclude yourself from the "we" in the second, which would itself be irrational.

"It seems that the Gospellers believed that the miracle stories were malleable and could be edited and changed to suit their purposes. If they could do so, what credence can we put on their accounts?"

If the evangelists were working from different oral or written source material, this would explain some of the differences Likewise, even if the stories were seen as "malleable" for literary purposes the arrangement/adjustment of the various stories would have to jibe with the basic tradition, or else there would have been objections early on. This is one reason why the four canonical gospels were accepted fairly early, while other gospels were seen as suspect and eventually rejected.

Furthermore, the complaint about the malleability of the material is in itself an anachronistic critique -- it is saying that since the ancients didn't do history the same way we do, their histories are invalid, which is poppycock, unless you want to start applying it across the board to ALL ancient writers, sacred and secular.

In any case, objections of this type to me seem to be only damaging to Christianity if one is a strict inerrantist.

David Henderson said...

"I have yet to see an account of the beginnings of Christianity that is any better than the one that Christians offer. If there were not miracles, then how do you get a bunch of people firmly convinced that Jesus rose from the dead and getting in the faces of the Jewish and Roman establishment to spread that belief?"


Please explain how this would be different from those that claim to have been abducted by aliens and those that protest the supposed alien captivity ongoing at Area 51. I don't see much of a difference. A small, select group of individuals speaking out about what they believe to be true.

Here, I'll use Victor's own structure:

If there were not [aliens], then how do you get a bunch of people firmly convinced that [abductions occur / aliens have visited the planet / the U.S. government is keeping aliens captive] and getting in the faces of the [media / military / government representatives] to spread that belief?

Victor Reppert said...

JL: Which Christianity are you defending? Get specific. Liberal, moderate, or conservative? Calvinist? Catholic? "Cultic"? Snake Handlers? KKK? Fred Phelps? You see, until you flesh out the details you are not defending a generalized Christianity at all, but a localized one. And if you think a generalized Christianity is good enough then that also takes a position with regard to a more inclusivistic faith, which other believers reject.

VR: C. S. Lewis called it Mere Christianity. So do I.

Victor Reppert said...

OK Dave, I take it you don't believe that people were abducted by aliens. Why do you not believe that. What is wrong with the argument for alien abductions?

Matthew said...

The good old Argument from Reason.

Who do you think did the best rebuttal to it?

Victor Reppert said...

I think Beversluis made a serious attempt to come to grips with it, but I think he misunderstood in in some important ways. Carrier kept defining intentionality in intentional terms over and over, and calling it a good naturalistic explanation. I think if you go on Dangerous Idea 2 (which is where I do this stuff for the most part), I think the responses by Blue Devil Knight are probably the strongest and most challenging responses.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks, Victor.

I personally really like this post, it is a good overall case for the Christian worldview. It's something I might show my friends to show them why I was a Christian (if I were a Christian).

I am not convinced by Loftus' arguments about 'types' of Christianity. It seems to miss the target and be a bit ticky-tack.

David Henderson said...

I don't believe that people have been abducted by aliens because I see a lack of evidence for the case of abductions. I would argue that it is not my burden to prove that aliens do not abduct people, but rather that it is up to abductees to put forth the evidence of their abductions.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Incidentally, my main response to Victor is here.

Victor Reppert said...

I'm not sure about this. I have never been to the moon myself, but I accept the testimony of those who have been there. I don't think I have to make them prove that it isn't a hoax. I've never been to Tibet, but I accept the testimony of those who have been there.

What kind of proof are we looking for?

And, I might add, that if you threatened the lives of these people who claim alien abductions, I think they would deny them.

John W. Loftus said...

Blue Devil Knight, you must understand that some Christianities have died out and others seem to languish and then be reborn in every generation. There were many different kinds of Christianities in the earliest centuries of this millennium, as Bart Ehrman shows us. And the Christianity in the future will not be the same one you know today, just as Christianity has changed since I first became a believer. Arianism is on the rise, you know, and I suspect it will be the dominant view in a few decades since Christians cannot defend the historic stance of the incarnation. Preterist eschatology will be the dominant view in the future. Women will work side by side in leadership positions with me. Homosexuals are already tolerated in the church. Of course, slavery is out, as is the torture of heretics and the notion of the crusade. Christianity is like a chameleon, ever changing with each new generations such that in only a few generations it becomes almost unrecognizable. So you and Reppert think you know what a mere type of Christianity is? Hmmmm. Then define it, Start a blog and argue for it. Invite the Christodelphians and Moonies and the Way and the Worldwide Church of God.

The Nicene creed was hijacked by the Cappadocians, so within a generation that creed had changed.

Ever here of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, 7th Day Adventists? What do you know about the Greek or Russian Orthodox churches? What common denominator do all of these Christianities have? Spell it out for me. I suppose that God exists, right? Then welcome to Islam, and many liberals embrace the Islam faith as part of the Christian faith.

And who do people think Jesus was? A revolutionary liberationist? A Jewish peasant, apocalyptic prophet, a miracle worker or exorcist? Son of God or God the Son? Did he bodily arise from the grave? Is this question not an important part of what believers think Christianity is all about?

Besides we're just talking about one small branch on the huge tree of religion. My argument is that Vic can't win the first debate over Christianity (ever look in on the Calvinists he recently), and he sure as hell cannot win the second one with the religions of the world.

There is no such thing as “Mere Christianity.” Dr. Eller is correct, there are only localized Christianities, localized in time and place and culture. Vic is defending a specific type of Christianity, and that's it.

The earliest historic creeds have been supplemented by other creeds for each denomination, you know. What is Christianity? It does no good to say it's "Mere Christianity." Articulate your own personal creed. Doing anything less is merely political posturing, or deciding what to eliminate in order to be part of the same grouping. But the point is that in order to be part of the same group you must set aside what you really believe. You can do that, but that's not defending what you believe in all of its specifics.

Vic is only defending his particular type of Christianity and I’m sure there are large numbers of Christians who would not want anything to do with his brand of Christianity even though they might all agree with his defense of Christianity in this post, and that is my point.

Cheers.

Shackleman said...

Really nice post, Dr. Reppert.

There's an old [Buddhist?] saying I heard once:

---When I point to the moon, stop staring at my hand.

It seems that some of your detractors in this thread are suffering from this kind of myopia.

Anyway, I liked your post very much.

John W. Loftus said...

Cut me a little slack since I was writing "on the fly." Thanks.

Rob G said...

"There were many different kinds of Christianities in the earliest centuries of this millennium, as Bart Ehrman shows us"

Ehrman is plain wrong and is pretty much a crank, just like Pagels. Read Pelikan, Behr, Daley, Kelly, Meyendorff, the Chadwicks, etc., and you get a different story. Ehrman's problem is that he seemingly went right from rejecting Evangelicalism into skepticism without giving much thought to other options (i.e., any more 'traditional' manifestations of Christianity).

"The Nicene creed was hijacked by the Cappadocians, so within a generation that creed had changed."

See above authors for a thorough refutation of this balderdash.

**There is no such thing as “Mere Christianity.” Dr. Eller is correct, there are only localized Christianities, localized in time and place and culture. Vic is defending a specific type of Christianity, and that's it.**

Hogwash. You and the other skeptics are just too damn lazy to do the legwork to track it down. While it is certainly true that probably no one holds personally to "mere Christianity" (everyone has a certain manifestation of it that he follows as an individual, in other words), this does not mean that there is no LCD which applies to Christians across the board.

"Articulate your own personal creed. Doing anything less is merely political posturing, or deciding what to eliminate in order to be part of the same grouping."

Impossible, because the very idea of a creed implies a plurality of persons who accept it. A one-man creed makes no more sense than a one-man team or a one-man orchestra or a one-man convention.

Shackleman said...

Mr. Loftus,

*If* there is one objectively true reality, and *if* it can be known by us, then there are objective *answers* for all of your (rather accusatory) questions.

As much as we in the Politically Correct generation hate to admit it, if there is one objectively true and knowable reality, and if God is part of that objectively true reality, then some religions, doctrines, creeds, and practices are *right*, and others *wrong*. Thems the breaks.

That also means that *parts* of one tradition could be true while other parts false, and that some traditions get some of it right some of the time. That also means that some religions can be *closer* to mostly true than others.

But it *doesn't* mean that since they don't all agree on all things at all times that they're *all* wrong about *everything*, as your post implies. Your implied conclusions therefore do not follow from your premise.

Steven Carr said...

"There were many different kinds of Christianities in the earliest centuries of this millennium, as Bart Ehrman shows us"

ROB G
Ehrman is plain wrong and is pretty much a crank, just like Pagels.

PAUL
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

Paul complains about the different Gospels and different Jesus's being preached.

Another crank....

I see nobody has come up with any evidence for the existence of Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus, Bartimaeus, Nicodemus, Judas, Simon of Cyrene, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Joanna , Salome etc etc.

All these people are as well documented as the Angel Moroni.

David Henderson said...

While you may have not visited the moon, you can still see it daily and examine, measure and predict it's effects on our planet. While you may have not visited Tibet, there is no reason to think that all of the flights and trains destined to Lhasa are actually going someplace else, and that the two transportation industries have colluded in creating an imaginary place for some purpose unknown. There is all manner of proof for the current states of the moon and Tibet, none of which is hearsay. And, that is my point, really. The only thing abductees have in the end is hearsay. Which is not proof at all.

I don't understand your point about threatening lives. I would venture to say that many people will say many things under pain of death, whether firmly held belief or not.

I would like to point back to your response to my first post and note that you avoided giving an explanation of how abductee enthusiasts are different from early Christians. Good job derailing me, and thank you for teaching me to be more wary. However, I don't expect a reply. You have other posts to occupy your thoughts, and I'm probably one of the "hand starers" that Shackleman is talking about.

Victor Reppert said...

Dave: Well, alien abductions seem antecedently improbable to me, and I am not sure that alien abductionists have the kind of coherent story that I believe Christians to have. I don't know, without checking out the case for alien abductions, that they don't have good evidence.

I mean, do you have cases where the biggest alien debunker turns around and claims to have been kidnapped?

Are you demanding that there be physical traces of the resurrection (as opposed to lifestyle and religious changes on the part of the disciples and their followers).

The early Christians began asserting the resurrection of Christ when they knew that there were people out there who were sufficiently motivated to squelch the message that they already engineered the crucifiction of their leader. The otherwise dedicated Peter chickens out and denies Christ three times before the cock crows. Wouldn't you? If they can kill him, they can sure kill me. After Pentecost he's preaching in front of the gate saying "This Jesus *whom you crucified* has been raised. Translation: you people who put this guy to death have been shown up by God to be wrong.

Why would someone say something like that? And then the whole book of Acts, which has all sorts of archaeological corroboration, also has plenty of miracles in it.

cratefromastoria said...

"We could not literally do mathematics, which is the very foundations of the science on which naturalism rests its case."

Can you point me to some articles or arguments on this idea of mathematics being incompatible with naturalism?

Victor Reppert said...

This paper by James Ross has to do with materialism and mathematics.

http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/courses/43151/ross-immateriality.pdf

Eric said...

"Which Christianity are you defending? Get specific. Liberal, moderate, or conservative? Calvinist? Catholic? "Cultic"? Snake Handlers? KKK? Fred Phelps? You see, until you flesh out the details you are not defending a generalized Christianity at all, but a localized one."

Isn't the same therefore true when it comes to criticizing Christianity? I know you claim to be focusing on conservative or evangelical Christianity, but that's hardly the degree of specificity you're demanding. Also, you claim that your arguments are successful against all variants of Christianity. Why does a defender need to be specific in a way a criticizer (apparently) doesn't?

"Let me put it to you this way, if you read everything that I had read and experienced everything that I have experienced, then you would think on these issues exactly the same way I do.
Deny this."

I think this is easy to deny. We can look at it in two ways.

First, we can separate 'reading' and 'experience.' Now, it's obviously not the case that if we both read all the same things we'll come to the same conclusions; and it's obviously not the case that if we both experience the same things, we'll come to the same conclusions. So, what is so special about the conjunction of 'reading' and 'experience' that makes a particular conclusion ineluctable?

Second, we could ask if you're claiming that your experiences and your reading have in some strong sense determined your conclusions. If this is so, then they have also, presumably, determined your conclusions that your conclusions are rational. But if that's the case, and if another's experiences and reading have determined a conclusion contrary to yours, and also determined his conclusion that your conclusions are irrational, what then?

Kyle said...

Since John intends to show how the Cappadocians "hijacked" the Nicene Creed, I thought it would be a good idea to let the reader actually read the differences:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed#Comparison_between_Creed_of_325_and_Creed_of_381

Of course, they should read the history as well and see that these hijacked ideas had origins in the earliest church.

I don't have time to argue this today, but the resources Rob G mentioned above make a good case (read Ehrman as well...he is far superior to Rubenstein's shoddy work, which is readable for a lay reader, but full of historical inaccuracies...or for his perspective try Groh...but don't expect the radical conclusions).

Victor Reppert said...

There are certain central claims which orthodox, supernaturalist Christians agree upon. I can't imagine what in the world my doctinal differences with other Christians has to do with the claims I am defending here.

If I argue that coinstitutional democracies are better than monarchies, is it relevant to the discussion whether I believe in strict constuctionism or loose constructionism with respect to the interpretation of constitutional law.

Blue Devil Knight said...

John: I understood your point the first time, but my initial criticism seems to hold.

Your point would be good to get into if I actually wanted to use Victor's statement as a basis for a conversion to Christianity. That would be the start of my work, to sit and figure out which 'version' I wanted to become. I'd have to start furrowing my brow and such to work through the theological detritus.

That said, as a general case for Christianity, for the layperson, it was very good. If you must get picky and start mentioning weird sects like Mormonism, then fine it lays out the center of mass of some set of Christian doctrines.

But note I don't think he was being particularly tendentious or weird in his description. It seems to be a fairly standard type of Christianity. That is, there was this dude Christ that died and was resurrected. He was the Son of God. And here's why I think this is a reasonable thing to believe.

Blue Devil Knight said...

And if I defend a certain center of gravity of naturalist thought, someone could come along and attack me to say which version of naturalism? They would have missed the point.

Sure someone could point out Chalmers as a case of naturalistic dualist atheist, and act as if they "got" me. They would have missed the point, as the existence of weird outliers doesn't mean naturalism doesn't have a center of mass that is worth articulating and defending.

So, by analogy, I think you are sort of missing the mark John. As much as I would like to think you had a rampart-rocking argument here, I think it just doesn't work.

Blue Devil Knight said...

That said, John does go after the specific claims in the actual essay in his comment posted at 5:09 AM. That's what a skeptic should do, is systematically dissect each paragraph of what Victor said and see if it stands to reason. Rather than assume it is generally true, and then be like, Ah, but which of these many sects is the right one!? That seems to allow too much.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
The early Christians began asserting the resurrection of Christ when they knew that there were people out there who were sufficiently motivated to squelch the message that they already engineered the crucifiction of their leader.

CARR
Victor, Victor, what shall we do with you?

Even Acts has the Jewish leaders seemingly unaware that great miracles had allegedly happened.

Acts 3 has them worried sick by the 'outstanding miracle' that a lame man has been made to walk.

But that would have been the very least of their problems if anything like the Gospel of Luke is true.

The Jews never dream of telling the Romans that these Christians were following a recently deceased rebel.

They wonder if the movement is from God, when they should know it is from a (to them) blaspheming fraud.

Even Acts depicts the Romans as totally unaware of any dispute other than an arcane dispute over Jewish law.

And in Acts, almost the entire cast of Gospel characters (including almost all the disciples!) disappear from history as soon as the church goes public.

Just like the Angel Moroni vanishes as soon as Joseph Smith goes public.

Nobody has come up with any evidence for the existence of Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus, Bartimaeus, Nicodemus, Judas, Simon of Cyrene, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Joanna , Salome

This includes evidence from Acts.

As soon as there is a public church, all these people disappear to wherever the Angel Moroni went.

And Christian converts in Corinth were openly scoffing at the idea of their god choosing to raise corpses.

Paul has zero mentions of any corpses rising. He is unable to give a single bit of eyewitness testimony as to what a resurrected body was like, even when trying to teach on the subject.

Apply the outsider test!

Why do all these people vanish, even from church history (and Paul's letters , 1 Clement etc), just like the Angel Moroni vanishes?

John W. Loftus said...

Vic asked...If I argue that coinstitutional democracies are better than monarchies, is it relevant to the discussion whether I believe in strict constuctionism or loose constructionism with respect to the interpretation of constitutional law.

Well, let's say your arguments actually overthrow a monarchy and it's time to set up a democracy. What happens next? People who agreed with you because you had a common enemy will now turn on you because you disagree on this issue. Wars were fought over these kinds of things. You know that.

John W. Loftus said...

BDK said...It seems to be a fairly standard type of Christianity.

There's a standard? ;-)

Ohhhh, but you must live in a box or something. Travel. See the world. Become informed that you are misinformed. Read about the Christianities that died out that would surely condemn Vic's "standard" view, and which Vic would have nothing to do with.

Standard?

Oh, you mean you hang around with a select group of people, then, eh?

Okay. Truth by clique group.

I don't mean to offend, but this is one of the silliest things I've encountered here on Vic's Blog. There's a "standard" Christianity? LOL

Where have you been the last couple thousand years, and where do you live?

I am serious. You will not get any traction with me on this. Sure, I argue against evangelical Christianity because it's the dominant view among Anericans. But dominant does not equate with "standard" and not even Vic is an evangelical if I understand him correctly.

Cheers.

Steven Carr said...

Is 'standard' Christianity the New Testament Christianity?

The one where blindness can be cured if the Creator of the Universe spits on somebody's eyes?

And pigs can be possessed by demons?

Some illnesses are caused by demon-possession?

And the creator of the universe comes to Earth and spends his time partly by telling his friends where to find free money by looking in the mouths of fishes?

This is the 'standard' Christianity that Victor believes in - 'Mere' Christianity, if you will.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
How could Jews start accepting an incarnate deity?

CARR
Yes, how could Paul start accepting an incarnate deity and then claim that the *crucifixion* was the stumbling block for Jews?

Just how did Paul go into a synagoue for 'weeks' and tell Jews that their God was was a recently living man that they should be worshipped, and not be stoned to death within 20 minutes?

It is a bit like asking how Joseph Smith got invited into theological colleges and seminaries where people listened for 'weeks' to claims that he was a Prophet of God, and that an angel had given him new scriptures to translate.

Blue Devil Knight said...

John:Of course there is a standard core of Christianity. Christ, the Son of God, was born, died, resurrected. I'm sure there are Christians that don't believe that, perhaps think it isn't literally true or something, but if you were to argue that the vast majority of Christian believers don't believe that? Is that what you are saying?

Regardless, you didn't address my arguments and analogy with the naturalism case. You keep restating what we all know: there are many Christianities out there. The problem for you is that Victor's statement is consistent with the vast majority of them, and seems a reasonable expression of a certain Christian narrative center of gravity.

John W. Loftus said...

BDK, did you not read my last comment to Vic or something? As I said, you will not get any traction from me on this issue.

And there are indeed different conceptions of naturalism. One spokesperson does not speak for all of us. The problem, and I'm pretty sure we've gone over this in the past, is that Vic claims there is a divine plan for the Christian faith, and if he doesn't, then others do. What's that plan? You'd expect people without a divine plan to disagree. Why then Christians? And this so-called core you speak of has been disputed down through the centuries by Christians themselves. Surely you know a little about the history of theology, right? Just a little will do ya.

What is there about this that is that hard to understand? Besides, I linked to criticisms of Vic's post but you and others want to focus on this? Okay, I guess.

If you want to discuss the history of theology with me then you need to catch up by reading a few good books on it and come back to me, because I do not have the time to type this history out for you.

If you want to deal with something of substance of mine try this on for size.

Cheers.

Blue Devil Knight said...

John: perhaps you could name some of the mainstream contemporary Christian sects that would have substantive disagreements with what Victor said in this post.

Rob G said...

"Paul complains about the different Gospels and different Jesus's being preached."

And does he not go on to say that these 'other gospels' are in fact 'no gospels at all'?

In other words, there is a true Christianity and any number of false ones, and the false ones are therefore not Christianities. A forgery of Vermeer's 'Girl With The Pearl Earring' is not "one of many Vermeers." It's not a Vermeer at all.

"this so-called core you speak of has been disputed down through the centuries by Christians themselves"

Yeah -- so what? The fact that people have argued about the core presupposes that they believe a core actually exists, does it not? Why on earth would they argue about something that was demonstrably non-existent?

For all your claims about knowing church history, your grasp on it seems more than a bit suspect, especially if you're willing to buy into Pagels and Ehrman without tackling Pelikan, Meyendorff, Behr, etc.

John W. Loftus said...

BDK, are you going to beat this dead horse forever or give up eventually?

"Mainstream" as opposed to otherstreams? Why exclude the "otherstreams" is my question and one you cannot answer without an argument. But once you produce one people who disagree will, not be part of your grouping anymore as labeled.

Mainstream, eh?

Which historical time period in the past?

Which part of the globe?

And which Christianity in the future?

You do realize that beer drinking Joe six-pack claims to be a Christian even though he doesn't know anything much else about it except that he thinks it means being a good person by his own standards.

Why should anyone think you (or Rob G above) are the authorities for defining what Christianity is all about? What are your credentials? Does God speak to you directly? Only the Catholics have a Pope who can tell all Christians what Christianity is about. Are you a Catholic, and do you believe in the essential Catholic doctrines of Mariology?

Again, did you read the comment I wrote to Vic yet?

Blue Devil Knight said...

John, your example of deep thought, that April fools post, has some problems.

You said that the only thing we can and should trust is the empirical sciences? That is insane, a kind of throwback to logical positivism whose principle of verificationism was self refuting.

I can be a metaphysical naturalist but a methodological pluralist. There is more than one way to get at the truth, and some truths are not particularly amenable to scientific investigation.

What measurements can the neurologist do to tell me what I dreamed about last night?

Do I need to go to a lab to get tested to see if I love my wife?

Literature, poetry, authentic (and inauthentic) human interactions, and reflective thought reveal things too.

For the recently deconverted Christian sheep the stuff you write is probably very helpful and thereaputic, but profound and substantive thought? Come on now. I have to stop before I become insulting.

Blue Devil Knight said...

John: as I said mainstream contemporary. That means now, present day.

I have read the comments, and responded to them. It isn't clear the same goes for you.

John W. Loftus said...

BDK said...John, your example of deep thought, that April fools post, has some problems.

heh, heh, what argument doesn't? What argument says everything that an author knows about the topic at hand including all of his background beliefs and his defenses of them? None that I know of. So there will always be problems for any argument, even if an opponent can agree the argument is valid. Do you like stating the obvious? Okay, I guess.

But you clearly cannot think outside the box. You cannot even begin to imagine how I would respond to something, can you? You just mention something as if it's a knock down drag out argument from which I surely cannot have a satisfactory answer. Okay, I guess.

You weren't the only one who raised these issues, and I attempted to answer to them right here. Surely you don't think that what I wrote there solves every issue, especially since it's such a short piece. Neither do I. But I believe I have counter-arguments to every one of your counter-arguments and you think the same about me.

So?

What?

I don't expect you to agree with me. Do you expect me to agree with you? There are a host of background beliefs we'd have to discuss first and I don't see that happening here. I would tire of it just like I have tired of your earlier discussion about which Christianity is true Christianity and why you must now talk about mainstream Christianity in today's world without the slightest embarrassment about why you feel the need to eliminate other views out-of hand.

Steven Carr said...

ROB G
And does he not go on to say that these 'other gospels' are in fact 'no gospels at all'?

CARR
In other words, although Christians were following different Gospels and different Jesus's, it is false to say that there were different Christianities being practiced by Christians in the time of Paul.

Because the other Christianities were not the True Christianity and so were not Christianities 'at all'.

Therefore, Rob G calls Ehrman 'pretty much a crank' for saying that early Christians had divergent view about what Christianity was.....

Say what you like about Victor but at least his reasoning is far better than the reasoning of almost every Christian poster on his blog. (I can't think of any exceptions to this rule at present)

Blue Devil Knight said...

That you say such a thing about science shows a philosophical immaturity characteristic of those in the skeptical movement. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but it is true (at least from my experience as a member of various skeptical groups).

1. Hey neurologist, what did I dream about last night?
2. Hey, neurologist, do I love my wife?

Are these things I cannot know without consulting the empirical sciences? Note I'm not making an argument about certainty here. I take it that almost all of my beliefs are subject to revision and all that good Quinean stuff.

Kyle said...

John,
The reason we are going to "beat this dead horse" is because you claimed, "without first defining the type of Christianity you defend here, Christian people can read this post and agree totally, thinking you defens their specific you. But you don't and you know it."

You have been shown that this simply isn't the case. You are arguing that Christianity changes so much and has had so many variants in history that his argument doesn't stand. But it does...which is why we are defending him here. For instance:

1. His argument would find no conflict with modern Catholicism (est. 1.1 billion of some 2.2 billion Christians)

2. His argument would find no conflict with any major Protestant group (including AoG, Baptists, Anglicans, Lutheran, Methodist, Wesleyan, Chinese Church which includes some 800 million of the 2.2 billion Christians)

3. His argument would find not conflict with Orthodox Christians (est. 250 million of the 2.2 billion Christians worldwide)

There are plenty more groups, but the rest combined (which would still largely agree with him) make up 2.3% of the total Christian population worldwide. Surely by modern standards, 97.7% could stand be argued to be "standard" or "normative" Christianity.

But your argument included historical theology, which happens to be the field I focused on during my graduate and post-grad studies, so I'll be happy to ablige this once, but would rather commenters do the research themselves. Your references above were to the Arian controversy in the 3rd-4th century. Whereas the majority of Christians in the mid-4th century might have been Arian, does this work against Vic's argument? Arius (as a basic description for those who don't know), argued that Jesus was a divine being created before time by God the Father. He was therefore not one substance with the Father, but was still seen to be one with God in will, purpose and thought. They held to supernaturalism, the literal bodily resurrection and most of the articles of the Nicene Creed (the original one), yet were opposed to the arguments for including the unity of the substance of Christ/Father by Alexander (and his protege Athanasius). As John mentioned above, the Cappadocians were also in line with the thought of Athanasius concerning the unity of substance in the Godhead.

Anyways, would Arianism conflict with Vic's arguments against naturalism? Would they conflict with Vic's arguments for Christianity? Not at all.

What about Sabellianism and its modalism? They would still agree with the thrust of Vic's argument. Montanism? Donatism? They would all agree with the basic points of Vic's argument.

The detailed differences between the "lost Christianities" to quote Ehrman, are not as big as you portray and even though the church as a whole rejected their teachings (and continues to do so by and large), they would have no problem with the things BDK mentioned as being normative of Christianity.

Mainstream, normative, standard, "mere" Christianity then would be the core teaching that you are denying, but that at least 97.7% of Christians agree upon (and actually more, but I don't want to sort out the bottom 2.3% right now). It would also be the core agreed to by all of the Sabellians, Arians, Montanists, Donatists, etc. and of course by the proto-orthodox. Let us not forget that all of these groups were in agreement with 1 Cor. 15:3ff, Phil. 2:3-11, Col. 1:15-20 and the other earliest creeds of the church (pre-dating the writing of the NT) and the "Old Roman Symbol" (basis of the apostles creed that was quoted from by Tertullian and Iranaeus from two separate ends of the Christian world - France and Egypt/North Africa - in the 2nd century...due to such dispersion in that time period, scholars are virtually unanimous that it dates to the 1st century...it includes the death, burial, resurrection of Christ, the forgiveness of sin, the future resurrection, etc.).

So yeah, we're going to "beat this dead horse" because you are attempting to hijack a very good post by Vic with claims that Christianity is so diverse today and was so diverse historically that his post has no meaning. Your claim in this argument is false (as you surely know...or at least anyone read in the field of historical theology, and do nothing to argue against Vic's post.

By the way John, I do truly respect that you are an atheist who continues to study the field of historical theology and don't see it as complete fairyology or the other cheap monickers that some give it. You respect the discussions from the earliest church...and I respect that about your arguments.

Anyways, great post Vic! And although the discussion thus far was done, I think this comment thread has run its course. Later.

John W. Loftus said...

I agree with what Carr just said, of course, easily and hands down. BDK, maybe you didn't read what I had said earlier about the empirical sciences too, just like I saw no evidence you read my comment to Vic earlier.

In any case we're talking past each other at this point and neither one of us is cutting the other any slack. You are not attempting to understand what I'm saying at all.

Have the last word.

You need it.

---------------

Kyle, thanks for your comment. I just noticed it while previewing this comment of mine. But I'm done here.

Cheers.

Rob G said...

"Apply the outsider test!"

As Victor and others have argued, the outsider test is impossible to apply objectively, so it's of limited use, except perhaps as a sort of glorified thought-experiment. If you are standing outside looking at something, you are of necessity standing ON something else; for the outsider test to be valid in any sort of strict way, the ostensible 'outsider' would have to be floating in the air epistemologically speaking. I think one of the names for this is 'angelism.'

Here, John, give this a go:

I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian who accepts the doctrines, worship, and practices of Orthodox Christianity. As such I believe that these beliefs and practices are normative, and that the Orthodox Church is the true Church of Christ wherein salvation and the gospel in its fullness reside.

As such, I believe that all other churches and denominations are in some way deficient. This does not, however, prevent us from making distinctions between those that are truly Christian (i.e., those that accept the core foundational creedal beliefs of the Christian faith) and those that do not. There are, from the Orthodox stance, Christianities which are deficient in some way or another, but which are still "Christian" because they maintain belief in the necessary core.

On the other hand there are groups that call themselves Christian which are not really Christian except in a purely nominal sense, because they reject some aspect or another of the core foundational belief.

That Orthodoxy does not have a pope is immaterial; it is the Church as a whole who speaks, and her spokesmen are the bishops. And you might want to know that the pope doesn't "tell all Christians what Christianity is about." That line is a caricature of what the papacy is (and I say this as a person who has a lot of disagreements with the Catholic understanding of the papacy).

Kyle said...

In the last post, something cut out...

"(as you surely know...or at least anyone read in the field of historical theology, and do nothing to argue against Vic's post. "

is supposed to be...

"(as you surely know...or at least anyone read in the field of historical theology, which you claim to be and I have no reason to doubt, would know), and do nothing to argue against Vic's post."

Blue Devil Knight said...

John: perhaps you should be more careful, then, in directing people to "deal with something of substance of mine", with a link. Perhaps pick a post with fewer obvious flaws.

Rob G said...

"Therefore, Rob G calls Ehrman 'pretty much a crank' for saying that early Christians had divergent view about what Christianity was....."

No, Ehrman is a crank because he implies that these variants are all of equal status and that the fact that 'catholic' Christianity ended up becoming dominant had nothing to do with its being the real McCoy (or Vermeer, as it were).

Blue Devil Knight said...

Something tells me Ilion would have made this thread a lot more fun.

Rob G said...

Great summary, Kyle. I'd like to see John's response, but I think he's jumped ship.

Steven Carr said...

So you can't find a quote of Ehrman saying these Christianities are all of 'equal status', but call him a crank anyway?

How is progress going on finding evidence for Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Judas, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, the Angel Moroni, Joanna , Salome, Nicodemus , Bartimaeus, Lazarus, Thomas etc etc

Does one Christian of the first century name himself as ever seeing any of them?


VICTOR
No other religion has the kind of archaeological support that Christianity does.

CARR
SO how is the hunt going for evidence of Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Judas, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, the Angel Moroni, Joanna , Salome, Nicodemus , Bartimaeus, Lazarus,Martha, Thomas, Simon of Cyrene, the Blessed Virgin Mary?

All these people are as well-attested as the Angel Moroni.

Blue Devil Knight said...

For those coming to this thread, Kyle's comment posted at 636 am is worth reading. He seems to know what he is talking about with the historical stuff. I know nothing about that, and was arguing based on the present distribution of beliefs, which I frankly also don't know much about.

Steven Carr said...

KYLE
Let us not forget that all of these groups were in agreement with 1 Cor. 15:3ff, Phil. 2:3-11....

CARR
Philippians 2 3-11
our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord....

Yes, the earliest Christians believed GOD (not some mythical Mary and Joseph) had given Jesus the name Jesus, and that this naming happened after Jesus had been killed.

John W. Loftus said...

I know I said I was done here. You'll just have to pardon my change of mind. Harry just posted something relevant. Be sure to click on the second link, the "eternity in the fires of hell" one, where all Catholics are condemned by this Christian site (see the second page of that link). He's not alone in doing so by far with so many other Christian groups.

John W. Loftus said...

BDK said...Something tells me Ilion would have made this thread a lot more fun.

While I had unsubscribed from this thread I just now noticed this comment of yours when posting the link above.

You really ARE an idiot now, arent you? I know more about you with this comment than anything else you've said, and it doesn't bid you well.

Blip said...

John,

Sheesh, man. Give it a rest.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Well, with John Loftus in this post and Shackelman in the previous post trying to do me from both ends, my guess is I'm centered on the Truth. :P

Blip said...

Ha!

You're right about ilion too - this sort of thread is his bread and butter. Where's the fellah gone?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Yeah, he would have had a field day with all of us intellectually dishonest idiots.

Maybe he is out burning down rainforests or something.

Shackleman said...

Gross, BDK. Hilarious, but gross.

Besides, you sort of did *yourself*...I just pointed it out.

I'm a nice guy. You'd like me if you'd try.

Victor Reppert said...

Harry McCall has to be kidding. That is the lunatic fringe.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Victor: obviously that web site expresses what you were making a case for in your post.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic wrote:

"How do you explain the intimate, detailed familiarity that Luke shows with the Mediterranean world?"

Ed replies: I know you're not a biblical scholar, but have you studied even a basic college text like Ehrman's on the New Testament, and what it says about the Gospel of Luke? Scholars are dating Luke-Acts later than previously assumed. Neither does the Gospel of Luke say "Luke" wrote it. It admits to being a collection of information, not an eyewitness testimony. Acts has similar difficulties and raises similar questions, questions found in the text itself, that you can learn about quite painlessly by reading just one small chapter in Gary Wills's book, WHAT PAUL MEANT. That chapter was praised by a biblical scholar who read it and reviewed the book since it sums up many of the questions scholars have raised concerning Luke-Acts. Ehrman in his New Testament college text adds to the questions in Wills's book. Basic stuff really.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Also, Homer's Illiad and Odyssey illustrate a lot of basic stuff about the classical world, but that doesn't make the miracle stories in those books any more convincing.

And I'm not exactly impressed by Paul's predictions in his epistles the Lord would arrive soon, nor by Paul's idea that "many" Christians in Corinth were made ill and some killed (fallen asleep) due to God's direct judgment in recompense for their having practiced the Lord's supper in a disreputible manner.

Edward T. Babinski said...

And speaking of Christianity's primo claim, "salvation," what exactly makes rational sense about "sympathetic magic?"

Victor Reppert said...

Bart Ehrmann? Oh dear. The guy admitted in a debate with Bill Craig that no matter what the evidence might show, as a historian he could not admit the existence of any miracle. Are you suspicious of Bible scholars who are inerrantists? I'm suspicious of Ehrmann for his methodological naturalism. What that means is that if I want to find out whether a miracle has occurred, I had better not ask Ehrmann. For him, it's a closed question from the outset.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
Vic wrote:

"How do you explain the intimate, detailed familiarity that Luke shows with the Mediterranean world?"

CARR


SO still no evidence for the existence of Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Judas, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, the Angel Moroni, Joanna , Salome, Nicodemus , Bartimaeus, Lazarus, Thomas etc etc

Does one Christian of the first century name himself as ever seeing any of them?

But the anonymous author of Luke/Acts does know where 'Malta' and 'Crete' were, even if he struggled with the meaning of the name 'Barnabas'.

So it must all be true.

After all, how could the author of Luke/Acts have known about the port of Adramyttium , apart from its great fame as being associated with Troy?

Rob G said...

"Are you suspicious of Bible scholars who are inerrantists? I'm suspicious of Ehrmann for his methodological naturalism."

Precisely. Which speaks to what I said above about Ehrman's implication that all of the early manifestations of Christianity were, at base, equivalent, given his presumption that none had any supernatural foundation.

For every Ehrman there's a Luke Timothy Johnson or an Arthur Just. And don't make me laugh about Wills. His book should have been titled: "Why I Remain a Catholic Even Though I Feel Free to Disagree With the Church At My Leisure Because I Happen to Know More Than The Entire Catholic Church Does About WHAT PAUL MEANT."

Blue Devil Knight said...

This Ehrmann guy sounds like a good historian. Do historians of Greek Mythology or Mithraism take seriously the possibility that the supernatural beliefs were true? Without the study of religion as myth, we'd end up with the study of religion as revelation, which sounds like horrible history.

Blue Devil Knight said...

My above comment was directed at "The guy admitted in a debate with Bill Craig that no matter what the evidence might show, as a historian he could not admit the existence of any miracle."

Seems the right attitude to take, as a historian. I certainly see why you would want to say the leap from methodological naturalism as a historian to metaphysical naturalism is not always warranted. I suppose it depends how reasonable the results of the methodological naturalism are. I am a methodological and metaphysical naturalist about cloud formation, because I think the naturalistic story about clouds leaves nothing out.

And that's where the disagreements would start. Substitute 'mind' or 'early Christianity' for 'clouds' and people get more bothered.

John W. Loftus said...

Okay, I'm back, but to comment on something entirely different, so it's okay.

Vic said: I'm suspicious of Ehrman- for his methodological naturalism.

Now this is an extremely important issue that I'd like for you to write a post about sometime, Vic. Ready? Here we go.

Why is it that methodological naturalism [MN] has worked extremely well in every area where it's been used--every single one--but that when it comes to looking the the collection of canonized books in the Bible such a method should not be used? My claim is that since MN has worked so extremely well in every area where it's been used--every single one--that we should apply that same method when it comes to studying the Bible.

Again, Vic. This is important, extremely important to me personally. Can you tell me where MN should be utilized and when it shouldn't be? And if the Bible is off limits to MN then why do you hold to a double standard?

I await your explanation. This is the crux of the issue for me. Without MN we would still think God opens the womb and that sicknesses are sin. We would already have explanations in God so there would be no room for science, which, is undeniably important to the human race for a wide variety of reasons.

Scott said...

Victor,

The essence of my comment was as follows.

The ability to construct a "logically possible" theology around a belief in the supernatural shouldn't be a sufficient reason to claim "you're stuck" with a specific definition of God's nature. IE. what you already believe

Since the supernatural is defined as that which you consider not nature, it is unclear as to what you would consider evidence that it is not true. Sure, things that we once thought were supernatural, such as opening a woman's womb, can cross over when they become transparent, but given the abundance of phenomenon that are still opaque and God's supposed omni-properties, it seems there could always be something you can point as "supernatural."

We could not literally do mathematics, which is the very foundations of the science on which naturalism rests its case. If naturalism is true, then there are no scientists, and there is no scientific method, and we're all epistemically screwed.

Naturalism doesn't imply that we cannot think of abstract things. Nor does naturalism claim that abstract things, such as circles and squares, have a causal effect on their own, such as creating universes or designing human beings. The definition of 'naturalism' isn't necessarily limited to physical things with mass. Quantum teleportation allows the polarity of an photon to be transmitted instantaneously without any known method of transmission. There doesn't appear to be any "matter" involved, yet we can repeat it time and time again in a laboratory. it's science, not the supernatural.

But if naturalism is true, then everyone has natural, physical causes for all beliefs, and this got to be ten times more damaging than sociological causes.

From my perspective, sociological interactions ultimately result in physiological changes that shape our beliefs. There is no dualism here. This seems to indicate a misunderstanding of my position as I think they are part of the same system.

I'm not saying that all beliefs acquired though social means must be wrong, or that such an acquisition method is "bad". It's one of many natural factors that ultimately results in physiological changes which determine our beliefs. However, social factors, geographical location and chronological presentation appear to be a unusually strong factors in accepting a particular religious belief. In addition, religions also make specific, yet conflicting claims about what is reasonable to expect from God and his nature, based on revelation and religious scriptures.

If naturalism is true, then there is no real mental causation, just physical causation that mimics mental effects.

It appears that your position is that beliefs are opaque and somehow except from causation. If I were to make an educated guess, this seems tied to the Biblical idea that we are made in God's image or that we must somehow be able to disengage our beliefs from causal factors since God judges us for them.

It's likely that our decision to distinguish phenomenon as being "mental" was based on our lack of knowledge about neurobiology, it's complex nature and the intimate relationship with have with our thoughts. As such, it seems it would make more sense to say we did the best with what we had at the time. Today, evidence strongly indicates that our beliefs are a culmination of our experiences, which are stored as electro-chemical patterns in our brain.

I think that Christian theism has some problems in the area of the problem of evil, but these are not worse problems than naturalists have in explaining consciousness, for example.

If we currently can't explain consciousness, then a supernatural being created the universe specifically for human life, who is actually three persons; one of which became a God-Man born of a virgin, who died for our sins, was resurrected three days later and ascended to a non-material realm by traveling through the earth's atmosphere? This simply doesn't follow. Instead, "we don't know all the details right now" seems to be the most reasonable response.

Until we can gain a more thorough understanding the enormous amount of observable activity going on in our brains, saying that we cannot account for consciousness is like saying you know an particular event doesn't occur in a three thousand page novel despite only having read one word. Claiming an unobservable "God did it" is an argument from ignorance.

No other religion has the kind of archaeological support that Christianity does. Have they found that battleground in Palmyra, New York, where the book of Mormon says a huge battle took place? Thought not. Is there a good DNA match between Jews and American Indians? You mean they look more like Orientals? Who witnessed Muhammad reciting and transmitting the Qu'ran?

Out of all religions, Just because Christianity has the most plausible description of God's nature doesn't mean such a description must be accurate or is plausible when compared to agnosticism.

If you say we must use faith to "plug the holes" in God's nature, then why plug them with a God who judges our choices based on incomplete information? Why plug them with a God who eternally exiles us from his presence without a chance to learn from such an exile? Why plug them with a God who found the smell of burnt offerings "pleasing" or demanded the violent death of a himself as a man, before he would forgive us of our own nature, which he himself supposedly created?

But maybe some naturalists need to take the Outsider Test and see how things look from the perspective that miracles are possible. I could argue that you have been brainwashed by the scientific establishment to rules these possiblities out. But I won't. The world just makes more sense from the perspective of Christian theism than it does from any other perspective.

Did Hume say that miracles are impossible? No. He said it would be incredibly difficult to tell if one actually occurred. Today, his argument is much stronger due to our current understanding of human behavior and our process of observation.

And if miracles are possible, then why have they decreased in number along with eye-witness literacy rate and technological advances in reporting, such as video and still cameras, orbiting satellites and a more detailed understating of biology? I'd think these factors would cause reports to go up exponentially, even if the overall number that actually occurred dropped. And why does God still only appear to perform miracles in what could be mistaken for statistical chance, even when our ability to detect them increases? This doesn't seem to really make sense from any perspective.

John W. Loftus said...

For someone who said he was bowing out of this discussion I sure come back a lot. Sorry.

Scott, great post!

Vic, I further explained my most recent comment right here and I challenge you to deal with it.

Victor Reppert said...

A lot is going to depend on how willing we are to miss a supernatural interference if there was one. That is what MN commits you to. MN doesn't say that miracles don't happen. It says that if they happen, we have to assume they didn't.

And I take it MN comes in different flavors. MN can be an initial presumption, or it can be an at-all-costs position.

Now my theory is that different people are going to investigate this stuff with different priors and different methodologies. What I want to know is if these things happened. There will be some who are locked into a belief that it did happen, or nearly so. There are those who are locked into the claim that it didn't. And then there are those who could go either way. Those are the ones who are going to catch my eye. Is the evidence more like what we'd expect if it did happen, than if it didn't.

Now if we are investigating other things, I may have less of an interest in knowing whether there was any supernatural involvement. Our interests may dictate that we get to know the natural causes as best we can, and leave the supernatural ones aside for the time being. But eventually I am going to want to know the truth. So I am going to see MN more as a temporary strategy than a permanent metaphysical principle.

Just sayin.... said...

John,

Just a humble suggestion. It would be somewhat easier to sympathize with your posts if it weren't for the arrogance and frequent use of ad hominem. I get the impression that you know maybe half of what you claim and understand even less than that. The rest strikes one as a poorly disguised bluff. Reminds me of my fundy days. I hope you grow out of it.

exapologist said...

I'd like to point out that Ehrman's most powerful basis for his rejection of the orthodox view of Jesus -- viz., the mainstream, middle-of-the-road view that Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet -- is logically independent of his MN. That's an abductive case, and the hypothesis of Jesus as a failed apocalyptic prophet either is or is not a better explanation of the data than the orthodox picture. I agree with those guys that it is the best explanation of the data, but that's a long argument I'm not willing to jump into at the moment. For now, I just want to make the weaker point that if Erhman's right about this, the force of his argument is logically independent of his MN.

Dale Allison's a believer, and yet he agrees with Ehrman, Sanders, Vermes, Fredriksen, et al. about this. So does believing scholar John P. Meier.[1]
------

[1] Meier and Allison deal with the implications that allow them to stay Christians, but they do it in different ways. Meier gets Jesus off the hook by rejecting the authenticity of the passages that put those predictions on Jesus' lips; Allison gets Jesus off the hook by taking Jesus' humanity seriously, and thus relaxing the expectations on the knowledge and behavior of an incarnate deity.

Steven Carr said...

The Outsider Test....

My article Miracles and the Book of Mormon uses exactly the same methods that Christians use when reading the Book of Mormon and the Koran.

I quote Christians applying the rules to the Book of Mormon that they refuse to use when discussing the New Testament.

I see Victor claimed in his original post that there was evidence for Christianity and yet, despite repeated challenges, nobody has been foolish enough to claim there is attested evidence outside the Gospels for the existence of Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus, Bartimaeus, Nicodemus, Judas, Simon of Cyrene, Mary Magdalene, Martha, Joanna , Salome etc etc.

All these people are as well documented as the Angel Moroni.

But, of course, the Angel Moroni is in a non-Christian belief system so can be dismissed by Christians, who would never dream of dismissing the Angel Gabriel and his alleged visit to Mary.

Dmitry Chernikov said...

John Loftus:
> I think I have a handle on this better than anyone I've seen argue on the web about these types of issues... by far.

Hey John, what are you supposed to be, a paradigm of the wise man? An incarnation of Socrates? And I thought it was the fool who said "There is no God."

> We humans are illogical creatures, especially when it comes to these issues.

How have you transcended your own illogical nature? Share you secret.

> There can be no AFR when we are like this, either.

Do you understand what the AFR argues? It has nothing to do with how poorly (or not, as in your case, o great one) the intellectual virtues are developed in different people.

The AFR asks how reasoning abilities, logic, mathematics, etc., as such can exist under materialism. It asks how such things as semiotic interpretation, decision-making, conscious experience are possible on materialism. What about moral reasoning? It is besides the point that there are immoral people. The question is how the notions of good and evil or right and wrong can exist in a universe in which the mind, human intellect and will are not countenanced as weighty metaphysical entities in their own right.

You have gutted metaphysics down solely to the world of matter and energy, and the AFR challenges you to explain the world-as-experience in terms restricted to your materialism. In fact, however, experience is all we have, and science itself is an abstraction from experience. The "machine" is subservient to and is an aspect of the "ghost."

Scott said...

Dmitry wrote: The AFR asks how reasoning abilities, logic, mathematics, etc., as such can exist under materialism. It asks how such things as semiotic interpretation, decision-making, conscious experience are possible on materialism.

Dmitry,

How much do you really know about modern neurobiology?

While we've made significant progress, there are several major challenges we currently face which make it difficult to explain consciousness in detail.

First, there is a enormous amount of electro-chemical activity going on in the human brain. To get a complete picture, we need to capture large regions of activity as a whole, in living subjects, with very high sample rates. The problem is it's difficult to do so in a non-destructive manner given our current technology. Unlike a computer, we can't simply set a break point in a person's brain to pause all neurological activity, then scan each neuron's state, take another step, scan each neuron's state again, etc. Currently, we are limited to externally map a fraction of this number from other species, which is incredibly time consuming.

Second, even if we could capture the required data, the human brain is essentially a massively parallel network consisting of 100 billion neurons connected by one trillion synapses. It's estimated that simulating the human brain would require 500 petabytes of data (10 to the 15th power.) This is 200 times more data than stored on all of Google's servers in 2008. Given our current technology, a super computer which could process this amount of data would be the size of several football fields and consume about $3 billion in electricity annually.

SEED: Out of The Blue

So, it's not that we've taken an exhaustive look into the human brain and found that consciousness, reasoning abilities, decision-making, etc. are not there. Far from it. Instead, we have an observable, unmanageable amount of activity, of which we have only scratched the surface.

As such, the claim that some unobservable supernatural being is responsible for this phenomenon appears to be motivated by religious dogma, not a search for truth.

Victor Reppert said...

But these observable things have to lack, at the bottom level, the four elements of subjectivity, normativity, intentionality and purpose. These things may be observablve, but to get all those things out of a set of basic things that have none of them strikes me as sheer alchemy. There is a logical problem, not an engineering problem.

John W. Loftus said...

exapologist, maybe you’re trying to diffuse the complaints of Christians who claim we don’t believe the Bible because we have an anti-supernatural bias, but I don’t see why we should. I’ve made my case in my book for a predisposition against the supernatural. Have you read it yet?

In any case a simple question can help us here. If Christians did not approach the Bible from a MN standpoint then what could they continue to believe even if they see the problems you mention? Could they continue to believe in the verbal-plenary theory of inspiration of the infallible, not inerrant, kind? They would just become moderates, evangelical moderates. With a MN standpoint I’m going for it all. Miracles. Virgin birth. Resurrection.

Dmitry Chernikov said...

Yes, the final argument of materialism: non-materialists allegedly set arbitrary limits to future empirical research. Well, I do nothing of the kind. "Decision," "discovery of a truth," "pain," "enjoyment" have certain meanings. You can't, by any amount of empirical research, prove that they don't mean what they do. "Decision" is a kind of experience human beings have, nothing more, nothing less. It's not "really" q-fibers firing, anymore than pain is c-fibers firing. You can't prove by studying the brain the incredible idea that when you made a decision it wasn't "you" who made it but rather the brain computed it and maybe a second or so later tricked the mind into feeling it. (You can redefine these terms, but that's your affair.) On the contrary, the mind is in command; all brain activity is only an input to the mind.

Looking to neurobiology for insight into notions of truth and understanding and so on is like asking a mining company CEO how to ornament your cathedral or like consulting hockey equipment makers on which team to bet on. That's why I recommend against it.

Therefore, your statement that we have not yet "taken an exhaustive look into the human brain and found that consciousness, reasoning abilities, decision-making, etc. are not there" is absurd. The two things, world-as-matter and world-as-experience are separate metaphysical realms. They come together in the union of soul and body; moreover, human action is the bridge between the two worlds. But they remain forever distinct.

exapologist said...

Hi John,

My point actually makes your case stronger. I'm pointing out that whether or not MN is sufficient for defeating an orthodox view of scripture (for the record, I don't think it is), it's not necessary. And since this is so -- i.e., since the case against orthodox views of scripture doesn't depend on MN for its epistemic force -- the resources for critiquing orthodox views aren't as limited as they would be if MN was the only way to do so.

Do most people really need MN to see that the hypothesis of inerrancy is not the best explanation of the conflicting genealogies and birth narratives?

Could a person hold on to Christianity after discovering that Jesus is a false apocalyptic prophet? I suppose so. But I doubt that most people would -- certainly no ethical person would. And that's the only sort of person worth considering, it seems to me. Of course, someone could take the sorts of escape routes that (e.g.) Meier or Allison take, but again, I doubt most people would. Most people get off the ship once its seaworthiness is called into doubt, but, sadly, some would sooner stay on the ship and drown. If the sorts of considerations mentioned above don't persuade them, I doubt MN would do much better.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
Have they found that battleground in Palmyra, New York, where the book of Mormon says a huge battle took place?

CARR
I can see why somebody without any prejudice would reject Mormonism because of that.

Only the most desperate apologist would still take Mormonism seriously when there is such a lack of record for it.

Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus at the Transfiguration.

Any chance of evidence for the existence of Moses and Elijah?

After all, we don't want double-standards creeping in, do we?

John W. Loftus said...

exapologist, you're being uncharacteristically unclear here, and I don't have the time to decipher it. Some things we agree on and other things, if deciphered properly, we might not.

Cheers.

J.L. Hinman said...

No Joe, it's much worse than that. It's not that such beliefs are false. It's that, well, if you or Victor were raised in different homes and had different experiences and read different books, and studied under different professors, and got teaching appointments in different places then you could both be atheist philosophers and/or theologians right now.


and If I had a different brother I would not know why Ingmar Bergman is. I would think it was Ingrid Bergman. But doesn't that cancel out Bergman as a great director?

That's how bad it is when it comes to anyone who claims to know the truth, and that's how bad it is when it comes to the claim that we as human beings can think outside the box and reason correctly, objectively and dispassionately without prejudices or preconceived notions. We can't, or at least, if we can, the only thing we can and should trust is the empirical sciences. That's our only hope. Science is the best we've got, and even science has it's problems.


that's a totally illogical position John.

(1) anyone with half a brain who has been college for a semester or two can come up with a position more sophisticated than "I know the truth." I mean come on, we not in highschool. YOu can't have to just shuck your belief system to come up with a way of describing that leave room for thought and for other view points than "I know the truth and you have to accept it."

that's the problem wtih atheism you love to feel supiror to religious people so you never give any any credit for any kind of brains.

(2) your argument is just deadly to your own position. If taken to extremes (do logical absurd ism thing on it) cancels any kind of thought.

(3) my own positon which I have elaborated concerns oter faiths is both logical and progressive and meets the concerns of the NT without doing any sort of violence to other groups, or excluding themf form the right to think.

if you want to know what it is read my book... when it comes out.

(4) what you say about our inablityt to speakt he truth about 'waht's out there' is a good cogent ponit. unforutnatley you miss boat in overlooking the fact that my theology is a mystical theology. The basic crux of it is that we cant' understand God. God is beyond our understanding. what we need is not philosphy or science or more udnersanding, because we can't understand it. what we need is experince.

nothing you say cancels out the fact that in mystical union we can approach the truth "out there" just becasue we can't describe it doesn't mean we don't know it when we hear that ideas that pertain to to it.

J.L. Hinman said...

I think the atheists in this discussion are just attempting a bad argumentation strategy, divide and conquer. It may be a good strategy for some things, but it doesn't apply in terms of religious belief.

To pull this off you have to assume that all religious belief is predicated upon a Church of Chrsit or fundamentalist sort of position that requires the dotting of all "i's" and the crossing of all "t's" and in the exact prescribed fashion.

But this is just putting you in the box. You can't look up and see the broader truths or the more progressive positions because you are only on the look out for fund-like things that you can attack.

Steven Carr said...

HINMAN
You can't look up and see the broader truths or the more progressive positions because you are only on the look out for fund-like things that you can attack.


CARR
I think Hinman is saying that there is no more evidence for Arimathea, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, Nicodemus, Bartimaeus, Lazarus than there is for the Angel Moroni.

But we should look up and see the broader truth.

But what is wrong with waking up and smelling the coffee?

Isn't 2000 years of frauds and lies enough for any religion?

John W. Loftus said...

Does anyone think with me that the liberal J.I. Hinman just made my case for me, or does everyone here embrace existential liberalism?

Let me provide an analogy. Let's say Vic just defended human values as having priority over other species. Most human beings would agree and cheer him on, right? That is, until Vic specified which values humans should embrace beyond that.

A Hermit said...

"I think naturalism is self-refuting because it is inconsistent with the fact that human beings perceive logical relationship and act on that basis. If they were purely physical systems in a purely physical world, this would not be possible."

I honestly don't understand this objection at all. Why shouldn't products of a natural world be capable of perceiving the relationships which exist in that natural world? There's nothing unnatural about feedback within a system.

Dmitry Chernikov said...

Oh please, Hermit, spare us the bullshit; you understand it perfectly. Here is an IQ test that I am sure you will pass: In the set {space, time, matter, true, energy, particle, wave, mass, momentum, false, charge, spin, force, field, (A -> B) & A -> B} which do not belong?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Dmitry: you should probably add 'kidneys', 'bee waggle dances', and other biological categories to that list. Few people thinks that thoughts are part of physics.

OTOH, once you bring in biological categories, it isn't clear what the answer is. And that's the point.

A Hermit said...

"Oh please, Hermit, spare us the bullshit; you understand it perfectly. "

OK, you got me Dmitri, I do understand it. I just think it's pretty week...

Did you understand my objection to it, and can you answer that objection? Shouldn't be difficult for someone who's smart enough to write his own IQ tests...;-)

Dmitry Chernikov said...

Well, I think that it should be admitted that "nature" incorporates into itself both causality (efficient causes) and teleology (final causes); both matter (material causes) and form / information / mind (formal causes) as ultimate givens. The two worlds "as matter" and "as subjective experience" are both realities, irreducible to each other and causally self-contained. Whether and how this fact can be used to prove the existence of God is not my interest here. But it is beyond the shadow of a doubt that mind could not have arisen from matter, by "evolution" or by any other means. Mind "is not" matter; it does not mean "matter"; it means something very different. To say that one is a product of another is an abuse of language.

Once we've got that cleared up, it is true that "products of a natural world be capable of perceiving the relationships which exist in that natural world."

Dmitry Chernikov said...

Here is a scenario that will retain my metaphysics without deriving theism from it:

The universe has existed forever, and, along with matter, it has also always had minds existing in ghostly form in the kingdom of Hades as shadows who wait until suitable bodies are produced in order to enter them and live embodied for a period of time. Once embodied, the souls forget all about Hades, though after death the souls return to the underworld, and the cycle continues indefinitely. What's wrong with that?

ozero91 said...

"I think naturalism is self-refuting because it is inconsistent with the fact that human beings perceive logical relationship and act on that basis."

Well, they could deflect this problem by adopting a sort of "naturalistic" Aristotelian metaphysics.

But that would mean Aristotle gets his revenge.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Christianity has been apologetically rationalised out of any form of meaningful existence. 'Mere christianity' is as meaningless as 'true religion'.

"A meaningless statement remains meaningless no matter how often it's heard." Roy H. Williams

Longstreet said...

"A meaningless statement remains meaningless no matter how often it's heard." Roy H. Williams

And yet you continue...

im-skeptical said...

"I think naturalism is self-refuting because it is inconsistent with the fact that human beings perceive logical relationship and act on that basis. If they were purely physical systems in a purely physical world, this would not be possible."

This is, of course an unproven assertion that is completely unfounded by any empirical evidence and inconsistent with what we observe about the natural world. The truth is that animals do "perceive logical relationship and act on that basis" to some degree, and humans do it to a greater degree. As we learn more about how the brain functions and the mind/brain relationship, the mysteries of human thinking are gradually disappearing. Computers are becoming more and more able to process information and respond in a way that is human-like. I am confident that science will eventually lay to rest any notion of logical thought being non-material in nature.

Crude said...

This is, of course an unproven assertion that is completely unfounded by any empirical evidence and inconsistent with what we observe about the natural world.

For God's sake, please read what Victor has written on this, and understand the source of the argument before stating what amounts to 'you're wrong because I disagree'. This isn't some throwaway line by Victor, it's a question he himself has done quite a lot of work on, argued for, and explained his position in the past.

As we learn more about how the brain functions and the mind/brain relationship, the mysteries of human thinking are gradually disappearing.

No, they are not. Some mysteries disappear. Meanwhile, other mysteries appear. Others stay. And the issue here is less of a 'mystery' and more 'contradiction'.

I am confident that science will eventually lay to rest any notion of logical thought being non-material in nature.

Your track record is one of supreme confidence, misplaced.

This is exactly the sort of situation where your response shouldn't be 'I don't understand - quick, how do I state I disagree?!' but 'I don't understand. I better ask some questions, to try and grasp what's being said.'

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ozero91 said...

"The truth is that animals do "perceive logical relationship and act on that basis" to some degree, and humans do it to a greater degree."

Nobody is doubting that. It's just that materialist explanations have a tough time grappling with the issue.

"As we learn more about how the brain functions and the mind/brain relationship, the mysteries of human thinking are gradually disappearing."

Sure, the soft problems are disappearing.

But we've been over this before. Just keep reading Feser's stuff.

ozero91 said...

Also, there's this. Credit goes to "Paradox" from Pratt's blog.

1) Matter possesses Third-Person ontology.
2) Mind possesses First-Person ontology.
3) (1&2) Mind and matter are qualitatively different.
4) A qualitative difference is a fundamental difference.
5) (3&4) The mind is fundamentally different from matter.
6) If it is possible for two identities to be different, the they signify different objects.
7) (5&6) The mind is different from matter.

Unless we adopt Panpsychism, (1) and (2) hold, and (3) logically follows. (4) seems self-evident, and (5) follows. (6) seems self-evident, and (7) follows.

Zach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crude said...

This is literally the most stark example of pot-kettle-black that I have ever seen on the internet.

Oh boy, I see Zach's no longer grounded and has internet access again. Lucky us.

'First-person' and 'third-person' express a grammatical or perhaps even epistemic distinction, not an ontological distinction, at least not obviously.

Er, no, it's not a mere 'grammatical distinction' to anyone who has even the faintest understanding of these issues.

Note I know that mind is not matter, but the above argument just seems weak and wouldn't convince me if I were on the fence.

Putting aside for a moment that what would convince Zach is the stuff of non-interest: alright, Zach. You say that you *know* that mind is not matter. What's your argument?

B. Prokop said...

"Oh boy, I see Zach's no longer grounded and has internet access again. Lucky us."

Damn you, Crude. My sides are hurting from laughing so hard at that comment!

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

I didn't say Victor's statement was wrong. I said it is unproven. I've heard the arguments. Wishing something to be true does not make it so. Would anybody care to show me the evidence to back up this claim? I think most adherents of naturalism see a statement like that and their reaction is "Bullshit! Unless you can prove that, I don't buy it." Theists. on the other hand take it as truth because it fits with their metaphysical beliefs. But they can no more prove it than they can prove the existence of a soul. On this issue, science is not on their side.

Zach said...

Crude I will post my own arguments about consciousness at my blog.

Crude, since you are so clear on these issues, and know enough to simply mock someone for not being familiar with the obvious, perhaps you can give a clear definition of first-person and third-person ontology that might help the argument go through.

The very question under consideration is whether the so-called "first person" subjective perspective is ontologically different from the "third person" objective perspective. To simply state, as a premise, that there is a first-and third-person ontology is to run roughshod over the tough questions. You cannot simply parrot Searle and talk about first- and third-person ontology, as if his writing on the matter is transparent or uncontroversial or even illuminating.

But maybe Crude, with his amazing grasp of the issues and perspicuity, can show why this is really an uncontroversial place to starting point for an argument.

Zach said...

Bob Proskop I'm glad this is what gives your life meaning. Oh, and acting like you are an astronomer so have any real authority about science because you take the short bus to look at the stars with the real scientists. lmao

All extremists, from Crude to Loftus, are just so easy to logic pummel until their pretensions are left dead on the floor.

Zach said...

Just to repeat my challenge to Crude: define first-person and third-person ontology in a way that helps the above argument go through, but does not beg the question that subjectivity and matter are ontologically different.

If he does, I promise to never post here again. If he does not, then it proves everything we already knew about Crude. He has single-handedly destroyed Victor Reppert's blog with his constant content-free hectoring of the intelligent people that used to post here (e.g., read the 2009 comment thread for this post, which had no input from Crude, and compare it to any comment thread in which Crude participated in a substantive way).

Crude said...

Crude I will post my own arguments about consciousness at my blog.

Why not here? Is it that you prefer to give your arguments in the place where people are the least likely to read them?

Put up or shut up, Zach. Work your magic.

Crude, since you are so clear on these issues, and know enough to simply mock someone for not being familiar with the obvious, perhaps you can give a clear definition of first-person and third-person ontology that might help the argument go through.

Bull.

I have no problem with someone 'not being familiar' with these issues. I do have a problem when someone mouths off as if they know what they're talking about, when they clearly do not. With im-skeptical, that is clearly - obviously - the case. If he merely asked a non-loaded question, I'd have simply answered it.

But maybe Crude, with his amazing grasp of the issues and perspicuity, can show why this is really an uncontroversial place to starting point for an argument.

Yeah, I didn't say that it's uncontroversial. I said that im-skeptical didn't even understand what was being said. It's philosophy and metaphysics - EVERYthing is controversial to someone.

are just so easy to logic pummel

Buddy, the only one you ever 'pummel' when you show up is yourself. You've shot yourself in the foot so many times you don't walk into these conversations so much as wheel yourself in.

But I just called you out. You said you KNOW that the mind is not matter. Bring it out. Dazzle us, Zach.

See, I have a suspicion here. I think you don't have an argument. In fact, I think you mostly bluff when you show up - and right now, you're loathe to have to offer a positive argument, especially with im-skeptical at the ready to dissent. So you want to change the subject or get out of this conversation as fast as possible.

Prove me wrong. Make your argument. Let's see what im-skeptical thinks of it.

Or, more likely - head for the hills.

Crude said...

By the way, I just want to point out something here.

Bob Proskop I'm glad this is what gives your life meaning. Oh, and acting like you are an astronomer so have any real authority about science because you take the short bus to look at the stars with the real scientists. lmao

See, Zach. Here is one overwhelming difference between yourself and me. Really, between yourself and most other commenters here.

I've disagreed with Bob in the past - and these disagreements have been very, very strong, even fundamental. I've had criticisms of his statements and his justifications, at times heated.

But I never said that Bob is stupid, or suggested he wasn't educated in his fields of choice, etc. I have no reason to think such, and much reason to think otherwise. You, meanwhile, just went for that out of the blue in some knee-jerk reaction, because the only thing you know how to do is make these responses as personal and derogatory as possible.

The short of it is, not only are you wrong about Bob by all evidence I've seen, but - again, as someone who has disagreed with him in the past - your whole comment was uncalled for. If you want to see the sort of responses that actually *do* drag this (or any) blog down, yours is a stunning example of such.

Zach said...

OK Crude you admit you are all talk when it comes to "first-person" and "third-person" ontology.

Bob gave me a little jab and I gave one back. That is different from what you do, which you are obviously obvlivious to. You cannot differentiate the social nuances that most of us learn by interacting with other humans.

I'm not going to start an independent subthread on why consciousness is not a material process. I don't have particularly new arguments, basically what has been swarming around since Huxley and Mill and St Thomas.

Zach said...

Zach 3, Crude 0

Crude said...

OK Crude you admit you are all talk when it comes to "first-person" and "third-person" ontology.

No, Zach. I criticized im-skeptical for criticizing an view he clearly didn't understand, and I criticized your statement about the first and third person modes of reference being 'grammatical'.

I nowhere said that the argument given (or the premises involved) were uncontroversial, or went through without issue - so calling me out to defend the distinction as such is baloney.

*You* meanwhile said that you *know* mind is not material.

Put up or shut up.

Bob gave me a little jab and I gave one back. That is different from what you do, which you are obviously obvlivious to

No, Bob laughed at a line of mine, and you responded by making a ridiculous personal attack on him on a completely unrelated subject. And yet you have the gall to suggest that *I* drag conversations down because, what.. I say Loftus is of middling talent? I say Linton demonstrably doesn't know what he's talking about?

I'm not going to start an independent subthread on why consciousness is not a material process.

Of course you're not. Because you don't have an argument, and you likely don't even believe you do. So you're going to buckle and run.

I love how you're trying to mask it as an unwillingness to derail the thread. Because, what - the idea that the mind is not material (or at least not material according to atheist materialist views of the word) is inappropriate here? Because YOU, the guy who derails every thread with otherwise content-free personal attacks, care a lot about keeping things on topic?

Put up or shut up, Zach. Again, I say you have no arguments. Hell, I question whether you even believe you do.

Prove me wrong. Wow us with your knowledge.

Crude said...

Zach, I am *glad* you linked that thread, because it makes you look terrible. You don't even comprehend it - all you know is "I, Zach, yelled at Crude a lot! That means me win!"

Let's try another one of your recent hits:

DL wins this one, because the point he is making, once you cut through the verbiage on both sides, follows from basic arithmetic in trivial ways. The various attempts to dispute that have been mathematical confusions.

+

Crude please go take some basic probability/statistics, you just embarrass yourself.

Meanwhile, DL's own response?

Crude,

Thank you for the stimulating discussion. I think you pushed a promising line of attack, and that got me to think about things in a lot more detail. I fact, I think the discussion got a few folks to think about the issue of inference, even if they disagree.


+

Your critique is that "non-design" is also a vague theory that would be ruled out in the same way. If it's true that any conceivable form of life could be expected under "non-design" as much as under "design", then my inference has little power to make inferences about whether life was designed. This is actually the best critique of my argument that I have ever seen.

But remember, Crude's replies never contribute to the discussion or advance things.

Zach's? Oh, sure they do. Well, you know, they would. He'd give arguments, you see, but he just don't feel like it right now. It'd be a derail. And he wouldn't be saying anything new. He only has enough time to insult people personally. Maybe he'll write something substantive later. On his blog. Or somewhere else where no one's going to look.

Zach said...

Crude: you are so angry that I've got your number, you will even save comments I've posted on your hard drive to bring them up later, cutting and pasting like a rabbinical student poring over my texts to find hidden meanings. lmao

"Look, daddy, someone said I did good!" Doctor Logic was just being polite, your argument was flawed from the start and it only took basic arithmetic to see. And no, I won't explain it to you because you never take anything seriously anyway.

Good job schooling me on first-person and third-person ontology. Guess that backfired, in a big way? lmao

Go try to bully someone else, half-wit.

Zach said...

Just to repeat my challenge to Crude: define first-person and third-person ontology in a way that helps the above argument go through, but does not beg the question that subjectivity and matter are ontologically different.

If he does, I promise to never post here again. After all, he said this should be easy to anyone who has even the faintest understanding of these issues. As you obviously do, boy.

Crude said...

you are so angry that I've got your number, you will even save comments I've posted on your hard drive to bring them up later, cutting and pasting like a rabbinical student poring over my texts to find hidden meanings. lmao

It's called 'having a memory' and 'using the search function', Zach.

Doctor Logic was just being polite, your argument was flawed from the start and it only took basic arithmetic to see.

Sure, Zach. DL reformulated his argument to try and get past my objection, and he - without prompting (it's not like we even get along usually) - said it was the best reply he's ever seen and a promising line of attack. But you know, he had to be kidding. Because you talked up DL's contributions in the past, and if he gave that endorsement, then your whole 'Crude never contributes' bit is blown out of the water.

And no, I won't explain it to you because you never take anything seriously anyway.

Right, there it is again: Zach's famous ability to argue. And you flub what I said, again, with third and first person ontology - because hey, if you just keep swinging wildly, maybe you can convince yourself you said something valid, right?

After all, he said this should be easy to anyone who has even the faintest understanding of these issues. As you obviously do, boy.

No, I said that saying the distinction between first and third person is merely 'grammatical' is nonsense to whoever has the faintest understanding of the issue. Meanwhile, your offer to leave if I just engage you is nonsense, since this all turns on YOUR ability to not only comprehend an argument, but to admit to it.

You can't even admit that DL thought that the argument I presented was valid and had force. But I should expect you to understand and concede on a technical philosophy topic?

Go try to bully someone else, half-wit.

I'm not 'bullying'. I'm pointing out the deficiencies in your behavior and your claims.

You're not going to give your argument, Zach - and we both know why you won't.

Victor, I know you prefer to moderate with a soft touch, but really - look at this guy. Zero contribution. Nothing but angry, personal attacks against anyone who disagrees with him. Allergic to any argument or discussion. At least Linton was useful in that he could be used as an example of reasoning gone wrong. With Zach? It's just name-calling and insults.

Your blog, your rules. But at this point all I can say is, you should really consider a ban here. Tell me this isn't Perezoso all over again.

ozero91 said...

"But they can no more prove it than they can prove the existence of a soul. On this issue, science is not on their side."

Science does not take sides on metaphysical issues. Saying that the soul does not exist is as metaphysically loaded as its negation. From a scientific perspective, you should be agnostic about this subject. Unless of course you can present a lab experiment which can falsify the existence of the soul.

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

"I said that im-skeptical didn't even understand what was being said. It's philosophy and metaphysics - EVERYthing is controversial to someone."

Oh, sorry. I guess this metaphysics stuff is beyond me. I read Richard Carrier's response to the AFR,
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/reppert.html
and it seems to say that this assertion is not proven. But I guess I don't understand Carrier either. So for my edification, would you care to explain what has eluded me? Or do you think that Carrier also doesn't understand it?

Crude said...

So for my edification, would you care to explain what has eluded me?

The fact that you're replying to the AFR with talk about science and computer programming goes a long way towards that.

Or do you think that Carrier also doesn't understand it?

Are you really asking me this question, as if I consider the idea that Carrier misfires badly with regards to the AFR to be beyond the pale?

im-skeptical said...

ozero91,

I didn't make a claim about the existence of a soul, except that it has not been proven, which, as far as I know, is still true.

I find it interesting that people keep saying that I don't understand, but they make little effort to understand what I say.

Zach said...

Crude lobbying to get me banned, after I called him out for insulting me, and finally asked him for some specifics to back up his bluster? That is just rich.

crude=loftus, with a different colored hat.

Zach said...

OK crude you can't handle big boy discussion: go back to the kid's table.

So my actual comment doesn't get lost in crude's pleas for attention, in response to ozereo's argument I wrote:
The very question at issue is whether mind is a special configuration of matter, so premises 1 and 2 are a bit tendentious. We'd need to see a definition of 'first-person ontology' and 'third-person ontology' in a way that doesn't do any question begging.

ozero91 said...

“The first and most fundamental problem is what I shall call the Possibility Fallacy: assuming that having no explanation is equivalent to not being able to have one (e.g. 69-71).”

So wait, Carrier seems to be saying is that just because you can declare that something does not have an explanation, it does not entail that there is no explanation. But we all know what that kind of principle leads to.

https://bearspace.baylor.edu/Alexander_Pruss/www/papers/LCA.html

Crude said...

Crude lobbying to get me banned, after I called him out for insulting me, and finally asked him for some specifics to back up his bluster? That is just rich.

I'm pointing at your long-term track record, Zach. You give no arguments. You namecall. You personally insult people at the slightest provocation, the latest being Bob Prokop. Your intellectual dishonesty is freaking apparent (see: the DL conversation in this thread - thank you.)

So yeah, I am openly saying that you should be banned. Victor's blog, Victor's rules, but considering Perezoso having earned it (BTW Zach, the whole 'This blog was better in 2009' bit? I was here in 2009.), you qualify in spades.

So my actual comment doesn't get lost in crude's pleas for attention, in response to ozereo's argument I wrote:

And the kid can't even quote himself honestly. In the same thread.

Here's the part he's leaving out: "
'First-person' and 'third-person' express a grammatical or perhaps even epistemic distinction, not an ontological distinction, at least not obviously."

Hence my comment that saying first/third person are mere 'grammatical' distinctions is absurd.

So, Zach's challenge to me is nonsense on multiple levels. Meanwhile, he pathologically refuses to give his arguments that let him 'know' that mind is not material.

Because he cannot produce. The boy is a troll, and he's proving it in spades here.

ozero91 said...

"So my actual comment doesn't get lost in crude's pleas for attention, in response to ozereo's argument I wrote:
The very question at issue is whether mind is a special configuration of matter, so premises 1 and 2 are a bit tendentious. We'd need to see a definition of 'first-person ontology' and 'third-person ontology' in a way that doesn't do any question begging."

I'm still looking into it, but I'll be able to comment in depth once I get done with my finals.

B. Prokop said...

"You personally insult people at the slightest provocation, the latest being Bob Prokop."

Heck, it takes a lot more than that to insult me. And yes, crude is right in this case. There's no way anyone can say I was "giving a little jab" at Zach. I was merely complimenting Crude on a great line. In fact, I'll do it again - laughed my ass off, Crude!

Zach, when I "give a jab" to you, you'll know it. To my recollection, there's only been two major incidents of such on this site. The first was months and months ago when some neanderthals dared to insult my wife and daughters. I let them have it full throttle. The second time was when Linton praised a pathetic little creep who disrupted a worship service in progress to make his personal political point. (I don't count my criticisms of Ilion as "jabs". They're simply statements of objective fact.)

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

Thank you so much for redating this post - if only because it reminded me of Loftus's linking to the book When Jesus Became God. That hilarious piece of "scholarship" apparently missed out on the letters if Saints Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna, not to mention the Christology of Saint Paul's letters and even the Gospel of John!

All of these revisionist accounts of early Christianity that over-emphasize the very real importance of the first seven Ecumenical Councils are nothing short of pathetic. As undergraduate term papers in a history class, they would have been sent back for a re-write by any competent professor.

If this is where John is getting his understanding of the development of Christian doctrine, it's no wonder that he's gone so far astray.

BeingItself said...

Victor,

Your buffoonish pals of at DI have once again been caught lying.

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2012/12/the-disco-tutes-1.html

B. Prokop said...

"Your buffoonish pals at DI have once again been caught lying."

Well... while I don't count the folks at DI among my "pals" (I find them rather embarrassing), I think that in this case, an accusation of lying is a tad extreme. If using stock photographs for background shots is lying, then the vast majority of pharmeceutical, toothpaste, and some cosmetics advertisements (the ones that show white-coated lab assistants earnestly conducting research in fake laboratory settings) are lies as well.

It may certainly be grounds for laughing at them, but not for calling them liars - at least, not for this.

Zach said...

So Crud you admit you cannot defend ozero's argument, or even venture to give precise articulation of this first-person "ontology" way of putting things (where "first person" is better taken as a grammatical or epistemic modifier, which I stand by, and which Crud attacks but cannot offer an alternative or specific criticism for...par for the course...but I should be banned for asking questions lol).

My point was to question ozero's argument, but Crud throws out a textbook red herring just because he cannot defend the argument under consideration once he is called on his BS. Then they cry to ban me. Grow up or go back to the little kids' table.

Zach said...

Bob the problem with that defense is that this isn't presented as an ad, but an interview with a scientist. It is unprecedented to greenscreen in such a dishonest way. God doesn't need to tweak genomes, tinkering here and there like Tinkerbell to get things right. Any more than He needs to tinker with planetary orbits.

Syllabus said...

Yay ad homs!

B. Prokop said...

It wasn't a defense - I'm just saying that there were many accusations that could have been levied which would have stopped short of calling them liars. One should not be so quick to reach for the nuclear option when criticizing someone. I think labeling the use of stock photographs "pathetic" would have more than sufficed, and set the right tone.

Lying implies a deliberate intent to deceive, which was probably not intended here. More likely the (misguided) motive was to improve the visuals.

Crude said...

So Crud you admit you cannot defend ozero's argument, or even venture to give precise articulation of this first-person "ontology" way of putting things (where "first person" is better taken as a grammatical or epistemic modifier, which I stand by, and which Crud attacks but cannot offer an alternative or specific criticism for...par for the course...but I should be banned for asking questions lol).

I said nowhere that I couldn't defend ozero's argument, nor did you ask me to. I laughed at you calling the distinction between first and third person expresses a 'grammatical' distinction alone with regards to this question. Your entire gamut on this front is an attempt to distract from the question I asked you: you said you *know* that mind and matter are not identical. I asked for the argument. You refused, because you know you don't have an argument.

Likewise, ozero's own argument as stated is open to the possibility that matter itself can host a 'first person perspective' - hence his explicitly bringing up and putting to the side panpsychism. You 'stand by' your claim that first- and third-person picks out something 'grammatical' because at this point you're in it too deep.

Reppert himself summarizes the idea being offered here: that given that the physical is defined as lacking 4 things (teleology, normativity, subjectivity and intentionality), then it looks apparent that you can't bridge the gap to the mental. The response of 'Maybe it's a special recipe!' merits the reply of: okay. What's the recipe?

So by all means, Zach - give the recipe. If you wave your arms and say 'I don't have one but I bet it's possible!', we're done here. If you buckle and say that maybe matter has normativity, intentionality, subjectivity or teleology innately, you're sacrificing the traditional physicalist claim and are off in the direction of non-physicalism or panpsychism anyway.

Finally, Zach, I never said you should be banned for asking questions. I said you should be banned because you do little more than insult people, freak out, and are demonstrably intellectually dishonest. (See, in this thread alone, your response to the Doc Logic quotes.)

So, Zach, I'm more than willing to engage you on this topic. Now, let's see if you have the guts to finally answer my challenge.

You say you KNOW that matter and mind are not identical. You said you have arguments. Give them to us, now, or be exposed as a liar who's got nothing.

Just to point out what position you're in - I'm now giving you exactly what you asked. Now, give me what I know you cannot supply - or admit you were lying when you said you had it.

Crude said...

So by all means, Zach - give the recipe.

I just want to point out how wide open the standards are here.

Obviously I'm not asking for some down to the atom, or even neurological recipe that yields subjectivity. By all means, speak broadly.

To use the typical examples a la Kripke - you could vaguely gesture in the direction of water being h2O by appealing to a vague reductionism. 'Maybe if you take the tiniest amounts of water, we'll find out it's just H2O.' With broad evolutionary possibilities, you can talk about reproduction and variation over time. (I think you'll still have some conceptual problems, but in the broad sense, you can get far with that basic concept.)

Now, when it comes to the 'special recipe' of putting together the third person phenomena and spitting out the first person phenomena (as opposed to walking an eliminative line)? That's a different ballgame. It's a little like saying you can make a rainbow using nothing other than white light a bunch of solid black cubes.

Zach said...

Wow Crude I pushed a button eh?

Someone finally calls you out, and you try to deflect it by completely changing the subject, turn up the bluster volume to 11, without ever admitting you were simply wrong.

Look--the focus was and is specifically on the argument from ozero, where I schooled you, and you keep trying to derail it and ask me to talk about something else. Sorry, Homie don't play that.

Contrary to you, who just wants to bicker like a schoolgirl, I am actually genuinely interested in ozero's argument, and don't want to go off on a tangent just to stroke your wounded ego. You do realize even if I do that, it won't make you right on the original argument, don't you? lol

Go take a High School Logic course, before you try to play with the big boys.

Yawn....Next!

Crude said...

Someone finally calls you out

Finally? I'm called out constantly, Zach, and I always answer when the calling out is actually appropriate.

You tried desperately to change the subject so you wouldn't have to supply what you know you cannot give - your argument/evidence that shows how you 'know' the mind is not matter.

Look--the focus was and is specifically on the argument from ozero,

What you asked me was to defend my statement about the difference between third and first person ontology not being merely 'grammatical' - given that those comprised steps in ozero's argument - and you did so entirely as a distraction to keep from giving the argument you know you do not have. And now I've done so.

What a shock - you're not coming after my defense, because you don't know how to do so. In fact, if you really do have some secret master argument for how you *know* that matter and mind aren't identical, it's probably going to be similar to what I just laid out.

All you have in response is more insults and now, squirming.

Contrary to you, who just wants to bicker like a schoolgirl, I am actually genuinely interested in ozero's argument

As am I. Which is why I just defended it, after you repeatedly saying I wouldn't. Funny how you talk about being genuinely interested, but I'm the only one actually talking about it.

I am also *genuinely interested* in how you know that mind and matter are not equal. You stated that in this thread. When asked to supply how you know as much, you've buckled. I say you're lying - you have no argument. You're trying everything to avoid giving one.

But Zach - I'm not going to stop asking.

Where is your argument for how you know mind and matter are not identical, Zach? Give us the argument. Educate us.

Zach said...

You can't even get your backpedaling right: I called it a grammatical or epistemic distinction, you never were able to defend the ontological distinction that you thought you could bully me with as some transparent premise for argument.

Now you just keep trying to backpedal, deflect, and bully rather than back up your BS, or admit you are wrong. You weren't up the challenge, boy!

Boo hoo Victor ban him, I can't take the logic fists! I can dish it but I can't take it! For the people who haven't been following this, here is how my discussion with Crud has gone.

Crude said...

You can't even get your backpedaling right: I called it a grammatical or epistemic distinction,

Right, Zach - and what I objected to was the grammatical claim. That's not 'backpedaling'. That's precisely what I laughed at.

Hence: "Er, no, it's not a mere 'grammatical distinction' to anyone who has even the faintest understanding of these issues."

you never were able to defend the ontological distinction that you thought you could bully me with as some transparent premise for argument.

I provided my defense, Zach. You have no response to what I supplied. I went above and beyond the call of duty here and stated why there is a gulf between first and third person ontology. I pointed out two possible routes you can take in this conversation, and the problems you're going to have with either if you try to answer me. You've got zero response except to keep complaining that, yes, I think you're ban-worthy.

And you won't give your argument.

Where is your argument, Zach? You said you KNOW that matter and mind are distinct. You are doing absolutely, positively anything you can to try and bury your claim and not follow through. But I am going to keep asking, because every time I ask you to supply and you can't answer, you're proving my point.

So thanks, Zach. Once again, you give me everything I want out of you and more, without my having to do much exactly calmly state my case.

Please, give yet another reply whining about how I'm bullying you by asking questions, panicking that I said you were ban worthy, and trying to change the subject. Anything - absolutely anything - other than backing up your claim.

Once again: You said you KNOW that matter and mind are not the same. I asked for your argument. Supply the argument, or admit you were lying when you said you knew.

Crude said...

to do much exactly calmly state my case.

"do much more than", that is.

And since I'm correcting that error, again I repeat my challenge to Zach - after meeting his own.

You said you KNOW that matter and mind are not the same. I've asked for your argument. You refuse to give it. I say you have none. Prove me wrong. Educate us - show us the argument. Or admit you don't have one.

Zach said...

Crude again you just misrepresent: I said it was a grammatical or epistemic distinction (I never said it was solely a grammatical distinction). Go study High School Logic, and come back when you understand why attacking A is not sufficient to refute 'A v B.' Let A=grammatical distinction, and let B=epistemic distinction. Do I have to do all the thinking man's work here? Wow.

Plus, it is truly amazing you would even want to attack that first-person and third-person as a grammatical distinction. Let me help. LMFAO

Give it up Crude, you have now lost both arms and a leg. Truly The Black Knight is among us.

Crude said...

Crude again you just misrepresent: I said it was a grammatical or epistemic distinction (I never said it was solely a grammatical distinction).

Yes, Zach. You said it was grammatical OR epistemic.

GRAMMATICAL is what I laughed at and singled out. I didn't question 'epistemic', because that's more controversial. It's like telling me that minds require cans of ginger ale or brains to exist, and I laugh at your ginger ale claim. Saying 'but I said brains too!' doesn't make your statement any less inane.

Go study High School Logic, and come back when you understand why attacking A is not sufficient to refute 'A v B.'

Try a reading comprehension course to understand why attacking A in 'A or B' is not 'attacking A and B'.

Plus, it is truly amazing you would even want to attack that first-person and third-person as a grammatical distinction.

With regards to what's under question in philosophy of mind? Yes, it's inane to suggest that the distinction is 'merely grammatical'. I argued why. You have no response to what I've said, and apparently will not be giving one.

You also will not give the argument that shows how you KNOW that the mind is not material. You keep dodging and dodging.

Wait a sec, Zach, I think I know what you're going to say: you were just kidding.

Or maybe you'll stick with your current master plan. ;)

Crude said...

By the way - remember when Zach was insisting that he'd leave the blog if only I offered up a defense of ozero's argument? Funny how that claim has gone silent. Also funny how after I give my defense of the first/third person distinction, he's reduced to ranting - but not actually engaging the argument.

Really, I never expected the guy to follow through on his promise - again, see his reaction to the DL quotes in this thread to see his intellectual honesty at its b est. But it does help illustrate what we're dealing with here.

I address this to all of the 3-4 people likely reading this blog, but you have to admit, this guy is illustrating exactly why I say he's merely a troll who doesn't grasp what he's talking about.

And he still will not provide the argument he says he has, such that he KNOWS the mind is not material. Why, one would almost get the impression he doesn't know what he's talking about, and is bluffing.

Thank you, Zach. Really, link another picture, rant some more. But whatever you do, don't give the arguments I'm asking for. Because somehow your course of action makes you look better, not worse. Right? ;)

Zach said...

Crude you just can't stand being wrong, can you? lol

What I wrote:
Just to repeat my challenge to Crude: define first-person and third-person ontology in a way that helps the above argument go through, but does not beg the question that subjectivity and matter are ontologically different.

And you have yet to take it on. You tried to bring up different issues, but that is known as a red herring to people that have studied High School Logic. It doesn't actually address the original question. If you admit you cannot answer the question, fine, I will just let it go. If you clearly answer it, I will never post here again.

Feel free to let me know if you have any more questions about the challenge, what it means to actually answer a question, or need any more help with how basic logical operators work.

Hope that helps.

im-skeptical said...

ozero91,

Sorry, I didn't see your comment earlier.

"But we all know what that kind of principle leads to." Are you referring to the PSR? If so, I'm not sure how that relates to Carrier's remarks. Carrier points out that Reppert claims, based on the fact that science hasn't yet fully explained how the mind works, there is no possible scientific explanation for rational thought given materialism. But he hasn't proven that science could never explain it.

If not the PSR, what principle are you referring to? I didn't read all of Pruss' paper.

Crude said...

And you have yet to take it on.

December 20, 2012 8:11 PM and 9:05. Answer them, Zach.

Oh wait, that would involve you giving an argument, and you have a note from your doctor saying you can't because you're allergic to those things. ;)

If you clearly answer it, I will never post here again.

Sure you will, Zach. Just like you'll admit that Doctor Logic, who you hold in high regard, thought my arguments had force? No, of course you won't. You'll bluff and give up bluster, and ultimately you'll run, because your intellectual honesty is at the level of your reading comprehension, your ability to argue and your skill with trolling: very low.

You won't admit you're wrong, and unless all my taunting finally gets to you, you won't give an argument.

Once again, because Zach keeps hoping I'll forget it: Zach said he KNOWS that the mind is not material. I've asked for the argument. Yet again, he's refused to give it. I say he has no argument.

C'mon Zach. Reply AGAIN with nothing but blind fury, poorly directed. So I can AGAIN ask you to give the argument you know you cannot give, despite saying you KNOW the truth about mind and matter.

It's not going to stop being fun to demonstrate you're full of hot air. And you're not going to get out of this by googling for images.

Hopefully you're learning a lesson here, but c'mon. Zach learning? Not likely, if it doesn't involve dog food and a bell.

B. Prokop said...

As what will probably be my last posting for the year (I start traveling tomorrow, and I never take my computer with me on trips), I will comment on Victor's OP for this convoluted thread. Why Christianity makes sense to me:

1. The Trinity - No other conception of God is simultaneously so plausible and yet completely incomprehensible. If it were not so, I would reject any attempt to "define" God out of hand.

2. The Incarnation - God is not some aloof being with no skin in the game. He is down in the trenches with us, has hurt where we hurt, rejoiced where we rejoice.

3. The Resurrection - I have yet to hear an alternative explanation to the Resurrection's literal historicity that even approaches believability. If'n you got one, let me hear it, 'cause all the attempts I've heard/read so far have been pathetic.

4. And 20+ additional reasons, but since it's approaching midnight, and I have to drive 11 hours tomorrow, I'll leave it at that.

Merry Christmas to all! See you next year!

Crude said...

So you admit you cannot answer my challenge to your bluster, when your feet are to the fire, you choke.

More of that fabulous reading comprehension of yours, Zach. ;)

I answered you. You have yet to reply to my defense. And, of course...

You said that you KNOW the mind is not material. You have been asked, repeatedly, to give your argument. You have failed. You've not only been exposed as intellectually dishonest in this thread, but as an out and out liar.

Thank you, Zach, for the early Christmas gift. I could never drag you as low as you've gone in this thread - that was an act of your own free will.

Crude said...

Have a safe trip, Bob. I'll be on the road soon myself.

Crude said...

By the way, here's one for Victor. Possible new OP material.

Cult of Gnu proselyzation tips.

BenYachov said...

Zack your a Gnu who pretends he is a believer. Nothing more.

Crude and Bob

Merry Christmas.

Steve Lovell said...

I'm not entirely convinced by Ozero's/Paradox's argument either. It ran:

1) Matter possesses Third-Person ontology.
2) Mind possesses First-Person ontology.
3) (1&2) Mind and matter are qualitatively different.
4) A qualitative difference is a fundamental difference.
5) (3&4) The mind is fundamentally different from matter.
6) If it is possible for two identities to be different, the they signify different objects.
7) (5&6) The mind is different from matter.

Firstly, if "fundamental" is a technical term, it's one I'm not familiar with. Is it? Can a definition be provided? Without it, I'm not sure how 5 and 6 are related so as to together entail 7.

Also, if we're assuming 6, I'm not sure it's self-evident at all. A lot hinges on the use of "possible" ... if we mean "conceivable" then I think the argument is in trouble. It's concievable that Superman is not identical with Clark Kent (that's what nearly everyone in the films believes, so it's certainly conceivable). That doesn't mean they aren't one and the same individual. Again, what is meant by "possible" here? Are we talking about possible worlds? That would make the premise much more plausible, but then I really need to know what is meant by "fundamental" before I can assess the argument. As it stands, I don't find it an especially helpful argument. Without further elaboration the argument seems to amount to little more than "Mental and physical properties are very different from one another ... surely they can't both be had by one and the same thing".

That is an intuition I share, but it doesn't amount to much by way of argument. So presumably Ozero and Paradox aren't arguing this way. But as I say, in that case I'll need more information before I can make a reassessment.

Anyway, Merry Chrismas everyone!

Steve Lovell said...

Oops. Missed the T.

Merry ChrisTmas !!

Walter said...

I have to agree with exapologist on his main reasons for not believing in the claims of orthodox Christianity.

http://exapologist.blogspot.com/2012/12/on-one-of-main-reasons-why-i-think.html

Crude said...

Merry Christmas Ben & all the rest.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I responded to Vic's Argument from Reason and shown it proves nothing: http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/01/prior-prejudices-and-argument-from.html

Victor Reppert never imagines that anything "new" can arise in a cosmos built of matter and energy. He still thinks in terms of the cosmos being nothing but isolated billiard balls. But the human brain-mind system functions by taking in data in mega-dozes, whole scenes of nature, via the senses, and reacts to these mega-sized doses of reality which constitute more than just reacting to individual atoms. Neither did brain-minds develop overnight. There's amoeba with no neurons, worms with a few neurons, all the way up to the great apes and a few other large-brained mammalian species like dolphins and elephants. As for logic, it is idiomatic, either A equals B or it does not. Animals sense differences in nature and their surroundings. Whether it is raining or not, and react to their brain-mind sensation of rain, not to individual atoms. Even a single cell species like amoeba can detect and trap prey, without a brain-mind. It is acting reasonably one might say in doing so, or at least proto-reasonably. Now imagine a brain-mind with 100 billion electro-chemically functioning neurons and a trillion connections between them. Imagine all that it can detect and react to. Vic never imagines such things. Also, determinism makes his skin crawl, but what's worse, determinism or making decisions based on "libertarian free will" utterly not connected with nature or one's wealth of knowledge? What's important is not "free will" decisions but making intelligent decisions, and that means taking in as much data as possible pertinent to each decision and prior to making it, even if that means our decisions are not libertarian "free willed." Libertarian "free will" decisions make as little sense as spinning a wheel of fortune, since by definition libertarian "free will" is a decision that can never be predicted, and that is not even decided by the most subtle of means. In fact the definition of libertarian "free will" is that a person is placed back in the same time and space and frame of mind when they first made a decision, and then see if they will continue to make the same decision endlessly. The libertarian "free will" position is that the person would be able to make a different decision. Totally unpredictable. Like I said, like spinning a wheel of fortune. Imagine a Christian placed back in time to the point when they decided to "become born again," and given a chance to change their minds. According to Vic they would be risking their eternal salvation each time they are place back in that same exact situation and frame of mind.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic on monotheism seems to have little knowledge of all the ways ancient Hebrew religious ideas paralleled those of other ancient cultures, including belief in a high moral deity, "a god above the gods." C. S. Lewis likewise was ignorant of the wealth of such parallels. Though even some Evangelical are beginning to wake up to many of the parallels.

http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/01/israelites-and-canaanites-how-different.html

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic is quite a fan of the book of Acts as an historical document. I doubt he spends much time reading about the wealth of arguments that support a more critical view of the historicity of Lukan writings. Also, Luke and Acts are both later than Mark, and you can see changes as the story has grown by the time Luke and Acts were composed.

Luke, Acts, Dates, History, and other Questions (a list of modern and classic resources) http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2010/08/luke-acts-dates-history-and-other.html

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic asks, "how do you get a bunch of people firmly convinced..." But Vic fails to consider how few were firmly convinced in the beginning. Was the city of Jerusalem convinced? Were the Jews in the Evangelical triangle where Jesus performed his preaching and "miracles" firmly convinced? No. A core group seem convinced. And people who already were "brethren" seemed convinced. But that is no more than in other cultic organizations that began small and indulged in group-think. The crucial growth of Christianity took place outside Palestine, in the Hellenistic world.

Also, in the Gospels you can see the story growing over time. Though neither Vic nor C. S. Lewis ever took the trouble to study the Gospels to such a degree to even begin to note such changes.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Has Vic considered this summary (borrowed in part from what John wrote) of crucial critical historical evidence we LACK in regards to Jesus...

We do not have anything written directly by Jesus himself or any of his original disciples (I think even Michael Licona admits that the evidence that Jesus' earliest apostles penned any of the Gospels remains questionable, nor have Bauckham's arguments for apostolic authorship based on "inclusio" taken the scholarly world by storm. His scholarly reviewers have pointed all the questions he is still begging). Nor do we have anything written by the Apostle Paul before he converted telling us about the church he was persecuting, nor anything written by the Jewish leaders of that time about Jesus or Paul, nor anything by the Romans that mentions Jesus, the content of his preaching, why he was killed, or what they thought about claims he had resurrected. This means we have no written responses to Jesus from the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, or teachers of the law. Nor do we have any testimonies from Ananias, Caiaphas, Herod or Pilate about the events we find in the gospels.

Nor do we have a single casual letter from anyone mentioning their first hand experience of having gone to see and hear Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus always had the last word over his opponents in the gospel accounts. His victory in debate is assured since his followers are writing such tales, like when Plato wrote Socrates' dialogues. But genuine debates in religion usually do not end so neatly with the opposite side having no further reply. It would be nice to know what his first century opponents said in response to Jesus, in their own words.

The Jews of Jesus' day believed in Yahweh and that he does miracles, and they knew their Old Testament prophecies, and yet the overwhelming numbers of them did not believe Jesus was the Messiah or anointed one, nor that he was raised from the dead by Yahweh. So Christianity didn't take root in the Jewish homeland but had to reach out to the Greco-Roman world for converts. Why should we believe if those who were there didn't?

There are other things we don't have but would like to. We don't have the correspondence from Chloe's household in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:11) telling us of their church disputes, especially concerning the resurrection that Paul responded to. Nor do we have their response to Paul's first letter which forced him to defend his apostleship, since they questioned it afterward (2 Corinthians). Nor do we know what Paul meant when he said some of the Corinthians and Galatians had accepted a "Jesus other than the Jesus we preached" (2 Corinthians 11:3-4) or a "different gospel" (Galatians 1:6-8). What we do know is that the sectarian side that wins a debate writes the history of that debate and chooses which books to include in their sacred writings. We don't even have one legitimate Old Testament prophecy that specifically refers to Jesus' resurrection. Nor do we have any convincing present day confirmations that God works miracles like virgin births or resurrections in today's world, something that would be of critical importance to historians when assessing these claims.

What we have at best are second-hand or more testimonies filtered through the gospel writers. With the possible exception of Paul who claimed to have experienced the resurrected Jesus in what is surely a visionary experience (so we read in Acts 26:19, cf. II Cor. 12:1-6; Rev. 1:10-3:21--although he didn't actually see Jesus, Acts 9:4-8; 22:7-11; 26:13-14), everything else we're told comes second hand.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Meanwhile has Vic considered WHAT WRITINGS WE DO POSSESS (dare I saw what "God" has preserved for us) FROM THE FIRST CENTURY (as if God could not preserve writings any more confounding for your average orthodox Evangelical Christian apologist), INCLUDE the Dead Sea Scrolls, but they merely raise questions as to the orthodox Christian interpretation of Jesus' motivation and mission, since they are the writings of apocalyptic cultists preparing for the world's final judgment. The Dead Sea Scrolls include OT writings, but also inter-testamental writings like the book of Enoch, as well as books written by the scroll community itself such as the Book of the Wars of Sons of Light and Darkness, the Melchizadek Scroll, and the group's end times commentaries on OT writings, and their laws and ascetic practices which were meant to keep them pure in preparation for the soon coming supernatural judgment of the people of earth, which only adds credence to the view that Jesus of Nazareth may very well have been the leader of a similar end time cult.