Friday, November 04, 2011

The Best Skeptical Response to Resurrection Apologetics

There are two sets of evidence that Christians appeal to argue that Christianity is divine rather than human in origin. First, there was the evidence of the empty tomb. The tomb, apparently, was found empty. At least, that is what the early Christians proclaimed, and it was not refuted by those people who would have wanted to see the movement quashed. The second is the fact that various people claim at least to have seen appearances of Jesus following his death. Skeptics typically respond by saying that we have reasons to have doubts about the claim that Jesus was buried in a known tomb. Executed criminals typically had their bodies dumped rather than buried. Second, skeptics typically argue that the disciples hallucinated the risen Jesus. Perhaps there weren't as many people who saw the appearances as the Bible claims. But people tend to hallucinate when they are very depressed, and are experiencing great cognitive dissonance, as must have happened to the disciples when their leader was executed on the cross. So, some people had visions, and the early Christians concluded that he must have been resurrected. 

This, I think, is the best response that skeptics have to the historical case for the Resurrection. While I don't buy the hallucination story, I do think it's the strongest skeptical response.

This is still, I think the best resurrection debate, between William Lane Craig and Keith Parsons.

212 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Vic, the link isn't working.

Victor Reppert said...

The link is fixed now.

parbouj said...

There are also cases where people can think they saw Jesus, but didn't technically hallucinate. For instance, modern Mary-in-the-Stormclouds type "miracles" are not hallucinations, but human pattern recognition run amok, with imagination fueling the narrative (no cognitive dissonance necessary).

In other words, hallucination is just one of many possibilities for explaining their incorrect beliefs (assuming we can believe such beliefs existed, a separate topic).

Chris said...

If you think Parsons is good, you should check out Dale Allison's book Resurrecting Jesus. I think it's the best defense of reasonable resurrection skepticism in general and hallucination theory in particular. And Allison is a Christian!

Victor Reppert said...

Does Allison's overall line of argument differ from Parsons'? Or does it present a version of Parsons' basic overall idea? I know there are other options out there, the question is whether those are stronger than the hallucination scenario I sketched. Do we have good reason to think another option is better.

parbouj said...

Do we have good reason to think another option is better.

There are so many mechanisms of faulty belief formation, it is strange to insist the skeptic settle on a single one, and one as rare as outright hallucination. The skeptic just needs a disjunction of options that he finds more plausible than the claim that someone was killed and raised from the dead. It doesn't take much creativity to think of things more plausible than that!

Anonymous said...

@parbouj: You are question begging. Rather than evaluating the matter in relation to the actual arguments in support of one side or the other, you are deciding ahead of time and then picking between models of faulty belief formation.

Ilíon said...

"@parbouj: You are question begging. Rather than ..."

That's because the atheistic rendition of the fatuous "love means never having to say you're sorry" is "atheism means never having to submit to the demands of reason and logic".

BeingItself said...

The best response to Resurrection Apologetics is (1)We have no good reasons to think there was an empty tomb. It was probably a legend added later and (2) We have no good reasons to think anybody saw Jesus alive after he died, it was probably a legend added later.

Human history is lousy with these type of legends.

Vic,

Do you struggle with how to respond to miracle claims from all the other religions? I didn't think so.

parbouj said...

Anon: the very question on the table is what the best skeptical explanations (e.g., hallucination) for incorrect putative beliefs of the early believers. Look at the title of the post, and the post.

To consider the range of possibilities available is not to beg the question, but to answer the question.

B. Prokop said...

I've never understood how the proponents of the "Jesus's body was dumped" theory have so consistently failed to see the reason why that was not so, plain to see in all four Gospels. Joseph of Arimathea, we are told, "went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus". Hmmm... Now what would such a request entail in the year 33 AD? Joseph is described as a rich man of some influence. And from all accounts, Pilate's character is clearly that of a self-serving careerist, interested first and foremost in "what's in it for me?". There can be no doubt that such a request from Joseph was accompanied by a temptingly large sum of money, discretely pocketed by the Roman Governor. And it's obvious from the accounts of the trial that Pilate did not believe Jesus was guilty of anything of significance, so he never saw Him as a threat to Roman rule, just to his own career. He would see no threat to state security in allowing a burial. In fact, he might have enjoyed having it done, as a poke in the eye to the Sanhedrin, with which he was not on the best of terms (to put it lightly).

As to Paul not mentioning the Empty Tomb? Good grief, just try and count the references to the Resurrection in Paul! The number has got to be in the triple digits. What does "Truthoverfaith" expect? That all the New Testament writers will use the exact same wording and phraseology? You can't have a resurrection without an empty tomb! The one implies the other.

Chris said...

Victor: Basically, Allison takes a sketch like the one you have here and shows it's plausible, much more so than most people realize. The value of his book is the massive amount of data he brings from psychological (and paranormal) studies of bereavement visions. He shows that visions of the recently deceased are very common, that these visions look like solid figures, that they are sometimes seen by more than one person, etc. He also discusses how other common aspects of bereavement might have shaped later Christian theology, like the tendency to idealize the deceased as having no flaws.

B. Prokop said...

I have read and listened to such "hallucination" arguments in the past (I haven't read Allison's yet) and find them singularly unconvincing on two counts:

1) Yes, people do "see" recently dead persons at times. I myself can attest to this from personal experience. Shortly after my father-in-law's sudden death in 1988, I experienced a weirdly realistic sighting of him a few months later, which lasted no more than a second or two. In 2008, after my wife's death, I often felt her "presence" for a moment or two.

But such experiences bear zero resemblance to the accounts of the Risen Christ in the Gospels. First, the duration of each event was near-instantaneous. And secondly, the account in the Gospels was of no mere apparition. The resurrected Jesus touched, spoke with, walked with, ate with, and interacted with the Apostles. He even started a cooking fire in one instance (John 21:9)! No hallucination does that.

2) All such hallucination theories begin with the premise that one cannot take the Gospel accounts seriously. But this is even worse than circular reasoning - it is as clean a jump into non-reasoning as you could ask for. If one doubts the veracity of the narratives, then why believe there was anything at all to hallucinate about? We only know of the appearances of the Risen Christ from the very accounts the hallucination theorists are disparaging!

Heck, allow me to throw in a third reason I find such theories unconvincing. They fall to the fallacy of claiming that if A is true, then B must also be, without establishing any legitimate connection.

Example: In WWII, pilots would often return to base claiming to have sunk such-and-such an enemy ship. But such claims were at times invalidated by sighting the same, supposedly sunk, ship in a subsequent encounter. But in fact, these erroneous pilots reports in no way invalidated the reliable sinking accounts of other pilots. But using the "logic" of the hallucination theorists, one would have to conclude that since one pilot was wrong, they all were!

B. Prokop said...

And one more nail in the coffin of the hallucination theory. In most instances, the Apostles (or Mary Magdalene outside the tomb) did not at first recognize the Risen Jesus. Mary famously mistook Him for a gardener. On the road to Emmaus, the two disciples failed to recognize Christ for hours. What kind of wishful-thinking hallucination is not immediately recognized?

Walter said...

@Bob

You are basically taking the gospels at face value as being historically reliable to a high degree. Those that push the hallucination or cognitive dissonance theory do not try to make their theory fit the exact details found in the gospels. For instance, apologists claim that multiple people could not have had the same hallucination in a group setting, but proponents of hallucination theory don't necessarily believe that it happened that way. One possible scenario would be for one distraught disciple, say Peter, to have had a visionary experience of Jesus after his death, who then passed his experience on to others who subsequently jumped on the "me too" bandwagon. The stories could then begin to mutate with multiple retellings until it reaches the first written account that we find in Mark. Not saying this is what happened, but if the skeptic concedes an overall reliability to the gospel stories, then it is extremely difficult to account for what happened without resorting to a supernatural explanation.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

I call that "Cherry Picking"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_picking_(fallacy)

Walter said...

I call that "Cherry Picking"

Historians "cherry pick" when they read Herodotus's stories about the Persian Wars. Stories filled with real history and fictional elements such as the Temple of Delphi magically defending itself.

Chris said...

B. Prokop,

For what it's worth, many if not most mainstream NT critics (not skeptics, but mainline protestants and catholics) see the extended encounters with Jesus in Luke, John and Act not as sober history but theological narrartives or apologetics, most likely created to counter the claim that Jesus was a spirit. Still, bereavement visions have been reported as being seen, heard, and touched, though I'm not sure about eating.

parbouj said...

Bob, where the gospels written by eyewitnesses, with independent surviving textual documentation corroborating their reports of these sightings (i.e., not the New Testament itself)?

Do we even have skeptical Jewish tracts trying to explain away these sightings that nonbelievers saw? Did Jesus, in those 40 days of wandering around as a ghost, interact with only people that believed? Or are there accounts of people debunking this person that they indeed saw, but just thought was not God wandering around in flesh form after he was killed?

Step outside of the book whose sole purpose is to push a religious viewpoint. What do you have left over to support your view?

IOW, take the outsider test {g ;P}

Walter said...

It pretty much comes down to faith any way you look at it. The believer has faith that the stories happened pretty much exactly as written; the skeptic has faith that it was either a colossal misunderstanding that snowballed, or possibly even a deliberate hoax. We'll never know for certain; we're viewing the past through the lens of faith: faith in biblical inerrancy, faith in ecclesiastical tradition and authority, or faith in naturalistic assumptions that resurrections cannot happen.

This debate has no end.

B. Prokop said...

Parbouj,

No one can "take" the so-called OTF, because no one can ever be an outsider. Like we used to say in the 60's, "Wherever you go, there you are". The entire premise behind the OTF is fallacious.

But we've dealt with this non-issue countless times on this website. I won't get sucked in any further into debating it. Been there, done that.

Perhaps since Loftus is hawking coffee mugs on Cafe Press that say "Have YOU taken the Outsider Test for Faith?", Victor can cash in by marketing mugs with the logo, "Have YOU detected the logical fallacies behind the OTF?"

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

No, no, no, no, NO!!!

You don't have to believe Resurrection accounts solely on faith. There are more than adequate reasons for believing it on reason alone. Libraries have been filled with such analyses, written by far more learned and intelligent men than me (who is basically an autodidact amateur in this field).

But there are no coherent refutations of the narrative.

Chris,

I'd like to know what these "mainline NT critics" were mainlining...

Read Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict. I think by definition he's about as mainline as they come, and he defends the Gospels as historically, factually accurate.

Walter said...

No, no, no, no, NO!!!

You don't have to take believe Resurrection accounts solely on faith. There are more than adequate reasons for believing it on reason alone. Libraries have been filled with such analyses, written by far more learned and intelligent men than me (who is basically an autodidact amateur in this field).


An appeal to authority? Of course there exists thousands of years of Christian apologetics that purports to "prove" the resurrection really happened, and I can show you reams of skeptical experts who say that it is unlikely to have happened, but what will any of this prove? Not much. Believe what you will.

Walter said...

You don't have to believe Resurrection accounts solely on faith.

I never said that each side believes *solely* on faith. Those on each side feel strongly that they have *reasons* for belief, but some amount of faith is required either way since none of us were there to personally verify what happened.

BeingItself said...

I agree that hallucination theories, stolen body theories, and and swoon theories would be unconvincing to the believer.

I wish skeptics would not use them.

This argument is simply about epistemology. In order to convince me that a man dead for three days came back to life, you will need extraordinary evidence.

But the evidence presented is sketchy, to say the least.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

"An appeal to authority?"

Damn right it is. I've never understood why it's considered a logical fallacy to do so. As I said above, I'm a rank amateur when it comes to theology, and in any case would never stand a chance in an arena with St. Thomas Aquinas, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, or Pope Benedict. I am not so stupid or arrogant as to think that what li'l ol' me could dream up could possibly be an improvement on what has been said (and written) countless times over two millenia. Of course I will defer to the opinions of persons far wiser than me unless I have very good reasons to do otherwise. But I freely admit that my default position when listening to my betters is to take them at their word.

parbouj said...

Bob you missed my point because you got all flustered by my outsider test joke at the end (what can I do beside put a smiley for goodness' sake?! {g [:-)}--put a link to an image of a clown with confetti coming out if his nose?).

The crux of my question (slightly edited for clarity/grammar):
"Do we have skeptical Jewish tracts trying to explain away these sightings of this mysterious figure? Did Jesus, in those 40 days of wandering around as a ghost, interact with only people that believed? Or are there accounts of people debunking the divinity claims, the resurrection claims, of this mysterious figure that so many hundreds of people apparently saw?"

If nowadays a group of 100 people of a faith said they saw someone return from the dead, you bet your bottom dollar there would be thousands of people talking about it, debunking it, inquiring about it, who were not of the faith. There would be an active debate, not just with believers.

Do we have any such records? Any at all?

Or just a bunch of pamphlets canonized by the truest of true believers, selected from a pile of true-believer tracts?

Where are the independent sources, the people that saw this figure and tried to explain it away?

parbouj said...

OTF isn't a fallacy, but an ancient tool (look critically at your most cherished beliefs), a tool that a modern tool has renamed and tried to take credit for.

No more on that please sorry I brought it up. Obviously I hit a sore spot with this crowd {;P}

Chris said...

B. Prokop,

As far as current NT/historical Jesus scholarship goes, the Pope is not mainstream, certainly not "by definition." He's conservative. That's not a bad thing, but by "mainstream" I mean people like Dale Allison (mainline protestant), John Meier (Catholic), etc.

You should take a look at Allison's book.

Victor Reppert said...

Actually, the underlying idea of the OTF is perfectly legitimate, in that, it is frequently useful to, as a thought experiment, imagine oneself as having started with a different perspective from that which you have in fact started. This is a point that I have argued many times. Where it goes wrong is when Loftus says that to *really* take the outsider test you have to take the perspective of an outsider like himself, a modern, science-oriented materialist. But there are many was of being outside of orthodox Christianity besides being outside of it that way, so why privilege that position? Why consider the results you get from that position to be authoritative or objective.

In short, anyone who thinks seriously takes many outsider tests, but what is questionable is when it is suggested that there is
The Outsider Test (TM), the results of which are definitive for the rationality of one's belief. Also, I have argued that directing outsider tests to religious faith, and not to beliefs in general, is question-begging.

B. Prokop said...

Chris,

We were using the word mainstream slightly differently.

There used to be a metal bar in Paris, that by common consent throughout the world was regarded as being exactly a meter long - by definition. If anyone were to ask in the year 1901 or thereabouts (?thenabouts?), "How long is a meter?, you'd be able to point to that bar and say, "That long". They called it the Standard Meter. (Nowadays they have some lame uber-scientific definition, using atomic decay and certain wavelengths. Boring!)

But that's how I was using the term mainstream. Then again, I'm a Catholic, so I'm able to regard Pope Benedict as my "standard meter". Probably wouldn't work for Protestants.

parbouj said...

Thanks Victor I think that is a reasonable way to look at it.

Walter said...

"An appeal to authority?"

Damn right it is. I've never understood why it's considered a logical fallacy to do so. As I said above, I'm a rank amateur when it comes to theology, and in any case would never stand a chance in an arena with St. Thomas Aquinas, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, or Pope Benedict.


I never said that an appeal to authority is fallacious. What I implied was that there are authorities on both sides of the fence. We each have to examine the evidence for ourselves and determine if we believe it or not. Do you ever consult the writings of New Testament scholars who are not believers? Habermas did a survey of contemporary NT scholars to determine what they believe, and he concluded that 75% believe in an empty tomb. Sounds impressive but you will note that this means that one out of four contemporary scholars/experts on the New Testament do *not* believe in the empty tomb. You have to ask yourself why that is.

Chris said...

B. Prokop,

Yes, we're using the word differently. You seem to have brushed off my original point though, so I'll restate it: Many if not most of what I would call mainstream NT critics, or even "experts" (in the sense that they publish in the major scholaraly journals, teach in major universities and seminaries, are neither part of the conservative evangelical fringe not the Jesus Seminar-type liberal fringe, and so on) think the extended encounters with the risen Jesus in Luke, John, and Acts are not historically accurate. So, appealing to the details in those narratives, such as Jesus eating and being touched, in order to refute hallucination theory, is naive. Again, one does not need to be overly skeptical to see this point; most NT critics are Chrisitans. In fact, many apologists cede this point when they use the "minimal fatcs" approach instead of defending the resurrection stories down to the last detail.

B. Prokop said...

You are absolutely right, Victor. I was referring to the "OTF" in a very narrow way - as it is defined by Loftus.

B. Prokop said...

Call me a conservative, then (although you'll be the first person in history to do so!). I regard most of the OT to be what we would today term "fiction" (although I dislike that word intensely), and take the NT at face value. I'm pretty much a literalist when it comes to the Gospels and Acts. Keep that in mind when discussing stuff with me on this website.

Anonymous said...

"Where are the independent sources, the people that saw this figure and tried to explain it away?"

They couldn't explain it away; that's why they became Christians.

Chris said...

I wouldn't presume to label you conservative or anything else on the basis of this short discussion :)

Anyway, do you grant that one can rationally hold a position other than literalism about the Gospels and Acts? If so, what good is appealing to rationally deniable details, like Jesus eating or being touched, in arguing against hallucination theory?

B. Prokop said...

Good question, Chris. I really don't know how to answer it. (Honestly, I don't.) I know people who are undeniably rational, yet believe in stuff that I think is way off the deep end, like Obama is a foreigner, or the Jews were behind 911, or there was a second gunman behind the Grassy Knoll. Is not believing the Gospel narratives on a par with, say, Holocaust Denial? Can one deny global climate change and still be rational? I'd like to say "no, you can't", but then I occasionally come across people think like those examples I just cited, and yet they don't appear to be visibly insane...

Chris said...

Well, I don't think denying the historicity of parts of the Gospels is on par with Holocaust denial or even climate change denial, but I get your point. The difference between us might be that the problem of rational disagreement shakes my confidence in arguments for the Resurrection or any of its naturalistic alternatives, but it doesn't shake yours.

BeingItself said...

B. Prokop said:

"Is not believing the Gospel narratives on a par with, say, Holocaust Denial?"

Do you make a mistake there? Is that your position? I cannot tell from the context.

B. Prokop said...

BeingItself,

I was listing positions that I find it difficult to believe that any truly rational person could hold.

And yet experience shows me that there are indeed people who do think in ways I consider completely insane, and yet appear to be otherwise rational people.

BeingItself said...

OK.

Now that I think about it, holocaust denial seems to me a more plausible position than believing the wildly implausible stories in the Gospels. Holocaust deniers are not making any miracle claims.

Tony Hoffman said...

Speaking of begging the question...

The skeptic does not have to explain the empty tomb nor the stories of Jesus appearing following his death. If Christians argue that these two things demand an explanation, then they must also explain the River Styx and Cerberus the three-headed dog in order to demonstrate that Hades does not exist.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

But they do exist. I have posted at length on this topic on previous threads. The world's genuine mythologies are echoes, as it were, of the Truth of the Incarnation. Dig deep enough, and you will find them all, every last one of them, to be a reflection of that Truth.

The Christian does not have to explain away anything. The skeptic, on the other hand, is hard pressed to understand why Humanity throughout the ages is unanimous in its testimony that Such Things have indeed occurred.

Anonymous said...

Tony Hoffman fails to differentiate between time periods and genres. The fabulous myths of Greece were placed--in illo tempore--in poetry, art, and mythological accounts. They largely drop out in the more historical writings of Herodotus and Thucydides.

The gospels, on the other hand, make a scandalous claim to historicitiy by appealing to concrete events, persons, locations, and time periods.

Chris said...

Tony,

But Christian apologists give reasons why they think the appearances and empty tomb are historical facts. Not so with the River Styx and Cerberus.

Chris said...

If they didn't give any reasons, then sure, they'd be begging the question.

BeingItself said...

Do any of the Jesus resurrection believes here also believe that Sathya Sai Baba raised Mr. RadhaKrishna from the dead in 1953?

If not, why not?

parbouj said...

Anon said, of why we don't find any independent texts corroborating anything from the Christian canon, for instance trying to explain it away or debunk it:
They couldn't explain it away; that's why they became Christians.

Umm, so nobody at all, when this fringe religion popped up, was skeptical when (supposedly) hundreds of people saw Jesus back from the dead?

Those that putatively saw him and later realized it was him were able to singularly convince everyone else it was him, met with no skepticism.

Or people simply didn't take this little cult seriously enough to even bother writing down their refutations.

Tim said...

Looks like a fun discussion. Count me with Bob as one of the people who thinks that the Gospels and Acts -- including the resurrection accounts -- are as historical as, say, the accounts of the doings of Herod the Great in Josephus. Rather moreso, actually, since they're closer to most of the events they report than Josephus was to Herod.

As for the arguments of those who disagree, I've read enough of them to be able to say that I find their counterarguments deeply unpersuasive. That is, however, a very large topic indeed.

toddes said...

@BeingItself,

Do you have reference(s) for this? There is nothing in the Wikipedia article for Sathya Sai Baba having raised anyone from the dead.

Also there is a difference being raising someone from the dead (Jesus performed this miracle on several occassions) and the resurrection of Jesus.

Chris said...

toddles,

Look at chapter 13 of this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Sai-Baba-Miracles-Howard-Murphet/dp/0877283354#_

You can read most of it on the amazon preview if you "search inside" for the title of the chapter. It's pretty interesting.

Chris said...

Sorry. toddes, not toddles. Not making fun of your name.

Anonymous said...

One other point: while the Gospels largely focus on the attention Christ gave the disciples following the resurrection, it was clear that he had a lot of followers before the crucifixion as well as afterward. The burden on skeptics in advancing the hallucination hypothesis is not only to show that those closest to him, the disciples, could hallucinate as a result of extreme bereavement, but a large number of followers who did not even know him personally who nonetheless believed.

Walter said...

The burden on skeptics in advancing the hallucination hypothesis is not only to show that those closest to him, the disciples, could hallucinate as a result of extreme bereavement, but a large number of followers who did not even know him personally who nonetheless believed.

Why would they all have needed to see a hallucination? You probably believe in Jesus, yet I assume that you have never seen him?

Tony Hoffman said...

Chris: "But Christian apologists give reasons why they think the appearances and empty tomb are historical facts."

But the reasons apologists give are the same others could give for Hades, Cerberus, and the river Styx; they all were written down by some people, and yet we have no other evidence for them.

Anon: “The gospels, on the other hand, make a scandalous claim to historicitiy by appealing to concrete events, persons, locations, and time periods.”

Hah. The gosepl writers are all anonymous, written many decades after the events they describe, in a language (Greek) none of the people in the Gospels would have spoken. Most of the events have no other corroboration outside the stories told in the gospels, and many are obviously false (the world did not turn dark for hours on Jesus’ death, the return to Bethlehem for a census taking appears stupid and has no other counterpart in Roman culture, no one seems to know where Arimathea was supposed to be, the timeline with historical figures does not match the timeline described in the Gospels, etc.).

And the gospels are not the first (far from it) to appeal to concrete events, persons, locations, and time periods. Perseus visited Ethiopia. Ulysses left his wife on Ithaca, etc.

This should be obvious; skeptics don’t need to explain the empty tomb or the post-resurrection appearances any more than Perseus haters have to explain how it is that he killed the sea monster if not with Medusa’s head.

BeingItself said...

toddes,

Google it, there are many accounts.

I am of course not defending the miracles of Sai Baba. Rather, just pointing out that religious folks tend to believe the miracles from their own religion that they were taught as children, yet dismiss all the miracle claims from other religions that they learn about as adults.

My question is why? What is your method to distinguish a 'real' miracle from a bogus report of a miracle.

Anonymous said...

Walter seems to have missed my point. Let me elaborate further: they would have needed to see him because the claim was that he walked among them and in public for forty days. It seems prima facia improbable that a large following would have been maintained if he wasn't actually there for many people to see.

Tony Hoffman is incorrect in his evaluation of genres. Ancient mythologies may occasionally refer to places or people, but not in a conscious and detailed attempt to be historical and accurate. The Gospels are more akin to the writings of Herodotus and Thucydides than Homer, which is evident in the attention they take to substantiate details in a way that mythological accounts did not.

Furthermore, his claims regarding the reliability of the Gospels is highly contentious and some of his claims are prima facia ridiculous, such as the accusation that the disciples did not know Greek and couldn't have written them, when in reality it was common for writers to dictate their works while others wrote them down. There are other responses to all of these tendentious accusations, many of them no less ridiculous, but space and time do not permit a discussion here for each and every claim, at least on my part.

Chris said...

Tony,

Is there really no difference between the Gospels and Ancient Greek myths, or do you just mean the miracle stories are myths? Do you think there was a historical Jesus?

Ilíon said...

As I have pointed out before, most, if not all, present-day "skeptical" objections to the Resurrection, or to any other miracle recorded in the Bible, are anything but skeptical (*), and most are hypocritical; which is to say, these objections tend to be intellectually dishonest.

Nearly to a man, these fools (yes, the very ones posting in this very thread) will assent to the absurd "scientific" assertions I discuss in the above linked. These fools are not at all skeptical about the "scientific" assertion that there are actually no "laws of nature" and that "things (anything!) just happen, all by themselves"; yet, when the topic is the testimony of divine intervention into the working out of the "laws of nature" as recorded in the Bible, then, suddenly, the "laws of nature" are in full-force, are carved in stone (**), and (somehow!) may not be violated under pain of self-contradiction and absurdity.

These people are not skeptics; they're hypocrites with respect to reason, they're intellectually dishonest: they're fools and liars.

(*) selective hyper-skepticism is not skepticism; it is hypocrisy with respect to reason, it is intellectual dishonesty.

(**) hmmm, doesn't Jehovah carve his actual laws in stone?

Anonymous said...

Ilion, you fancy yourself to be virtually incapable of error and to possess complete knowledge of fundamental reality. If this is so, then please exercise your peerless, gargantuan intellect by writing a comprehensive book that will forever enlighten humanity about reality.

Walter said...

Walter seems to have missed my point. Let me elaborate further: they would have needed to see him because the claim was that he walked among them and in public for forty days. It seems prima facia improbable that a large following would have been maintained if he wasn't actually there for many people to see.

The large following of people is part of the story told by one author. We do not have individual testimony from anyone in this "large following" who supposedly witnessed Jesus resurrected. This is the point that I was making to Bob. Contemporary skeptics are not like the Protestant Rationalists of the 17th century who believed in the inerrancy of the New Testament yet denied supernatural causation. Modern day skeptics generally deny the overall reliability of these accounts in the first place.

Ilíon said...

No one can be elightened against his will ... as witness the Anonymouse who imagines that he has refuted what I've said -- by providing a sterling example of it.

Anonymous said...

Water, without a large following, how was it possible for Christianity to grow so fast? There is both biblical (in the epistles) and extra-biblical evidence that the Jerusalem church was the largest for some time. How did it reach such a size only years after the events of the Gospels and Acts otherwise? If the resurrection and the events of the Gospels and Acts did not occur, why did such a following in the Jerusalem church emerge when the mass of followers the Gospels speak of would by all accounts still be alive? Paul even writes in this regard and references these persons as credible witnesses. If these claims were all false, why didn't people in Jerusalem protest? Why didn't they disabuse those inquiring, as Paul directs them too?

If this is a conspiracy or a disillusion, it is one that involves the perfect coordination and deception on the part of not only a small coterie of disciples, but many hundreds of people.

BenYachov said...

> But people tend to hallucinate when they are very depressed, and are experiencing great cognitive dissonance,

But why hallucinate a literal resurrection instead of hallucinating Jesus merely being in Heaven as a reward for his martyrdom? He would have been no different then the 7 martyrs in the 2nd book of Maccabees.

I learned in psychology cognitive dissonance tends to take the path of least resistance.

In the famous UFO cult story I learned in my psyche classes when the UFO didn't show up to take the faithful away then destroy the Earth. The cult prophetess conveniently received a message from the "God of Earth" their display of faith saved the world.

They did not however claim an actual UFO showed up & told them personally.

So best Atheist explanation is relative IMHO.

parbouj said...

If it is true that 25% of scholars don't believe in the empty tomb, that is significant, as consider the off-the-charts selection bias for people going into that field to believe. Who would waste their intellect studying that so intensely for so many years if they weren't already strongly predisposed to Christianity....

These are people with some of the most biased priors in favor of it.

And note the empty tomb proves nothing. Grasping at little table scraps little ones.... {;O}

Anonymous said...

Parbouj, please save the patronizing misdirection for another time. That there is no consensus does not negate the importance of the question. Your appeal is a non sequitur.

Further, your conjectures are problematical or not apparent. How are you arriving at this figure? Scholars who object to a historic resurrection have their biases as well--it is not fair or honest to declare that bias in unique to one side. You are engaging in question begging again! The subtext is that your position is the default (which it is not--agnosticism is the default) and that in discarding the problem, you move the dialogue to that end without debate.

B. Prokop said...

Parbouj must have a Protestant background (I am guessing here). Thus his continual appeals to "scholars". Catholic Christians believe that the Holy Spirit has delivered the Truth to the Body of the Faithful (the church as a whole), and not to individuals.

(See 2 Peter 1:20. "No prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation.")

Also note that Paul repeatedly cautions against relying on "the wisdom of the wise" (1 Corinthians 1:20. "Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?).

I care not in the slightest what a supposed "25% of scholars" has to say when it conflicts with what the Body of Christ proclaims. Said "scholars" were not given the promise that Christ gave to the Church: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth" John 14:16, better appreciated here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeAMHRiQBfo DEFINITELY WORTH LISTENING TO!)

Not that I'm against scholarship! Far from it. But I could imagine that this 25% might resemble the spirit of the apostate bishop in Chapter 5 of C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce. If you've never read that book, then by all means stop whatever you might be doing, rush to get a copy, and read it now!

Walter said...

(See 2 Peter 1:20. "No prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation.")

No one believes that 2 Peter was written by Peter, or that it was even written in the first century.

Yeah, I know...I am letting my liberal protestant turned deism show through. :-)

B. Prokop said...

But, Walter, you should know that to anyone who believes in the inspiration of Scripture, it's quite irrelevant as to who actually wrote it. (I certainly don't care!)

That's why the argument which so frequently crops up in these discussions, claiming that we don't know the true names of the Evangelists, falls so resoundingly flat. Would it matter in the slightest if, instead of having Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we called them Fred, Bill, Harry, and George? I think not. Not as long as they said the same thing.

But for the record, I am totally convinced that Mark, Luke, and John were indeed written by their namesakes. As to Matthew, you could convince me either way (if you had sufficient evidence one way or the other). For now, my default position is (since it really doesn't matter, and in any case no one has such evidence) I will assume it was written by Matthew.

And the most probable explanation for the authorship of 2 Peter is that it is a compilation of sayings known to have originated with Peter, set down by an unknown scribe.

parbouj said...

Anon is misunderstanding basic fallacies again, not following the basic logic of the discussion. Maybe a feser student.

Read some plato...or read Him again.

Bob yes raised liberal methodist.

Walter said...

But, Walter, you should know that to anyone who believes in the inspiration of Scripture, it's quite irrelevant as to who actually wrote it. (I certainly don't care!)

Divine inspiration of a certain set of human texts is a faith-based position that cannot be falsified by empirical means. Which is why I stated earlier in this thread that the belief--or unbelief--of each group ultimately appeals to some form of faith. For you, it is faith that an infallible God-spirit exists who whispered the Truth into the ears of the Catholic Magisterium. For the naturalist, it is faith that dead bodies don't come back to life after three days...ever. For my own part, I am actually quite undecided whether it really happened or not. I hesitate to use the term, but I suppose that I am "agnostic" concerning the resurrection.

B. Prokop said...

"yes raised liberal Methodist"

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

B. Prokop said...

"Divine inspiration of a certain set of human texts is a faith-based position that cannot be falsified by empirical means."

Walter, I cannot emphasize enough how far off you are from how I regard the veracity of Sacred Scripture. It is in no way whatsoever solely a "faith-based proposition" - far from it! I am 60 years old now, and have had ample time over the years to read, study, and ponder quite a bit. More than enough, probably. I've read the Bible more times than I can count. I've studied the Koran, and the holy books of Daoism and Hinduism. I've patiently sat through Mormon missionaries giving me their sales pitch (tried to get through the Book of Mormon, but found it unreadable). I've had serious conversations with practitioners of Yoruba and Wicca, and have stood among the great stone circles of the British Isles and tried to understand their makers. I've heard and read all the arguments on the atheist side of the "issue" (don't really know what to call what we're talking about here). I've plowed through Darwin and Hitchens, read H.G. Wells, Voltaire, and Lenin (in Russian!), and even Loftus. I don't think the atheists can surprise me with anything new at this point.

I've repeatedly examined the Resurrection accounts every which way one can, and in the end found them to be totally, utterly, and completely convincing - beyond all possible reasonable doubt. I came to this conclusion not only through Faith, but from Reason.

But here's where you miss the point concerning my attitude towards Scripture. There comes a point when one moves on, and doesn't forever reinvent the wheel. I don't need to prove to myself for the 300th time that Christ is Risen. As far as I'm concerned, that's Settled Fact. I am now free to advance to far more important issues, such as what does this Event mean to me (and you), and what is my appropriate response to acknowledging this to be True. How must I now live? That's what counts now!

Walter said...

Walter, I cannot emphasize enough how far off you are from how I regard the veracity of Sacred Scripture. It is in no way whatsoever solely a "faith-based proposition" - far from it!

Then you are stating that the inspiration of the 73 or 66 books of the bible can be proven by empirical means. Good luck with that.

You keep implying that I am accusing you of a kind of irrational fideism--I am not. I know that you believe that your faith is informed by your reason. The naturalist's faith is informed by her reason as well. I see no reason to accept the inspiration of the bible nor the authority of your Catholic Magisterium--and therein lies my faith.

Anonymous said...

All one need do is examine the origins of the Mormon religion in order to to see that people are quite capable of believing anything. I say this not to pick on Mormonism, but because that religion's origins are recent enough that it is relatively easy to verifythat it is the creation of human imagination. And yet that religion continues to grow and flourish.

BeingItself said...

"I've repeatedly examined the Resurrection accounts every which way one can, and in the end found them to be totally, utterly, and completely convincing - beyond all possible reasonable doubt."

If you set your epistemic bar so low, how is it that you do not believe all sorts of other non-sense?

I will ask this question a third time.

What is the method you use to determine that a miracle claim from one religion is true, while a miracle claim from a rival religion is false?

Anyone?

Tony Hoffman said...

Chris: “Is there really no difference between the Gospels and Ancient Greek myths...”

Don’t misrepresent my argument; I did not say there was no difference between the Gospels and Ancient Greek myths. Of course there are differences.

Chris: “...or do you just mean the miracle stories are myths? Do you think there was a historical Jesus?”

Yup on myths, if by myths you mean fantastical stories and embellishments that did not occur in reality. And yes, I think there was almost certainly a man named Jesus who preached an eschatological vision. There were undoubtedly many others like him.

Anon: “Tony Hoffman is incorrect in his evaluation of genres. Ancient mythologies may occasionally refer to places or people, but not in a conscious and detailed attempt to be historical and accurate.”

Move goalposts much?

Anon: “The Gospels are more akin to the writings of Herodotus and Thucydides than Homer, which is evident in the attention they take to substantiate details in a way that mythological accounts did not.”

No. Herodotus repeated some fantastical stories as well, but he was not credulous nor a prosleytizer like the writers of the Gospel, Paul, etc. Herodotus avoided truth claims in those topics where he knew they could not be properly verified. For instance, Herodotus wrote: “I think that all men know an equal amount concerning the gods’, that is, all men have beliefs and rituals which satisfy them, and they are inaccessible to testing for objective truth.”

Anon: “Furthermore, [Tony Hoffman’s] claims regarding the reliability of the Gospels is highly contentious and some of his claims are prima facia ridiculous, such as the accusation that the disciples did not know Greek and couldn't have written them, when in reality it was common for writers to dictate their works while others wrote them down.”

Huh? Are you arguing that the Disciples wrote the Gospels? How do you know it was common for writers to dictate their work while others wrote them down? (I’m going to take a flyer here and guess that you have no idea why such a statement is a kind of contradiction in the field of historicity.)

Anon: “There are other responses to all of these tendentious accusations, many of them no less ridiculous, but space and time do not permit a discussion here for each and every claim, at least on my part.”

Yeah, well seeing as how you flailed at the first one you served yourself up I’ll leave the rest of your claim’s credibility to stand in that light.

B. Prokop said...

"What is the method you use to determine that a miracle claim from one religion is true, while a miracle claim from a rival religion is false?"

I don't see much relevance to this question. The Daoist miracle stories aren't even believed by the Daoists themselves, so there is no need to determine their verity. Hindu miracles are for the most part set in a timeless, a-historical otherworld, and are thus immune to verification. As for Mormonism, others have already done a sufficient job of demolishing its claims, so I feel no compulsion to re-invent that particular wheel. I've better things to do with my time. As to miraculous claims in Yoruba, I actually have a fair suspicion that a goodly number of them are true. I'm not familiar with any Buddhist claims of miraculous occurrences. (I'm not saying there aren't any. it's just that I personally am not aware of any.)

As to atheist claims to the miraculous, I believe in most of them (e.g., the miracle of existence itself, of creation, of this uniquely perfect planet we live on, of life and its amazing diversity and complexity, of my own personal existence, my birth and my death - all miracles).

Chris said...

Tony,

Asking you questions is not my attempt to misrepresent your argument, but to clarify it.

I originally thought you meant the Gospels are as useless for gathering historical information as ancient Greek myths. That can't be, if the Gospels have enough history in them for us to be fairly certain that Jesus had an eschatological message. Couldn't they, then, conceivably be useful in figuring out what happened after his death? I think so. I think we can reasonably say that at least some of his disciples thought they saw him alive shorty after the crucifixion. That deserves, if not demands, an explanation, whereas the River Styx and Cerberus do not.

BeingItself said...

B Prokop,

Thanks for the 'answer'.

The relevance of the question is that I am trying to understand your epistemology.

I assume that you do not believe any of the Sai Babba stories of the people he raised from the dead.

But what I'm am trying to do is understand WHAT METHOD you use to decide that.

B. Prokop said...

Chris does point out a critical difference between the Gospel narratives and "myth" in general (although there is a huge gray area in between).

Whereas the Gospels (and Acts) are quite specific in placing their events in time and space, pinning down what C.S. Lewis termed the Grand Miracle to a single, datable moment in History (Passover, 33 AD) and a particular, definable spot on the globe(Golgotha, just outside ancient Jerusalem), mythology as a rule takes place in a undefined space in a timeless moment. At the very best, this moment is generally considered to be "in the beginning", or "once upon a time". This is an enormous difference.

Probably the best example of the gray area I mentioned above would be all the many narratives associated with the Trojan War. But here we are on the ragged edge of "myth" and slipping over into "story telling". Not really the same thing. No one composing those great works of literature actually thought they were relating accounts of True Events. We have Virgil on record as saying he didn't believe in the historicity of his own Aeneid. Neither did Ovid or Apollonius. We don't have such smoking guns for Aeschylus or Homer, but I have no doubt they were well aware that they were just making it all up.

B. Prokop said...

"I assume that you do not believe any of the Sai Babba stories of the people he raised from the dead."

I've never heard of them. I have no idea what you are talking about.

Walter said...

Here you go, Bob.



saibaba miracles

Tony Hoffman said...

Chris: “I originally thought you meant the Gospels are as useless for gathering historical information as ancient Greek myths. That can't be, if the Gospels have enough history in them for us to be fairly certain that Jesus had an eschatological message.”

Well, no and yes. I didn’t say that ancient Greek myths are useless for gathering historical information. We can, for instance, be fairly certain that Ancient Greece had a rival in Troy, and that the two civilzations fought, and that Greece destroyed Troy. And we can probably say that there was a man named Jesus, who preached an eschatological message, and whose death was a surprise to his followers. So, I’d say that Ancient Greek myths and the Gospels seem fairly similar that way.

Chris: “Couldn't they, then, conceivably be useful in figuring out what happened after his death? I think so.”

Hmm. Do you think that the Odyssey could be useful in figuring out how a surviving hero of the Greek war against Troy returned home? I think both the Gospels and the Odysseey could be useful that way; but I think the question isn’t their putative value in that regard, but their actual.

Chris: “I think we can reasonably say that at least some of his disciples thought they saw him alive shorty after the crucifixion. That deserves, if not demands, an explanation, whereas the River Styx and Cerberus do not.”

Yeah, I don’t know why you think that a story about how a man was resurrected deserves any more of an explanation than a story about a man who killed a Cyclops. In other words, why does a story with some roots in historical events not deserve an explanation for its fantastical elements, but another does?

BeingItself said...

Sathya Sai Baba was an Indian Guru whose millions of followers believe he performed many miracles, including raising people from the dead.

You can read many alleged "eyewitness" accounts of these alleged miracles.

I want to know why Christians accept the alleged "eyewitness" accounts in the Gospels, but dismiss the alleged "eyewitness" accounts of Sathya Sai Baba's miracles.

I'm just asking that Christians be consistent.

Chris said...

Tony,

Well, it seems to me the Gospels have deeper historical roots than any story of Cyclopsicide. One reason is that they were written 40-60 years after Jesus' death, whereas I don't think the Iliad or the Odessesy was written that close to a war between Greece and Troy (though I'll have to look it up). Another, better reason is that we have some of Paul's letters who plainly says he saw Jesus and spoke to Peter and others that saw Jesus too. The gospels (that is, the synoptic Gospels, which have some historical value) were written after Paul's letters were collected and published and thus independent of them. The gist we get from the gospels--forget the embellished details--is that resurrection belief arose because a bunch of people thought they saw Jesus alive after his death. So, I think a reasonable conclusion to draw from these two sources is that a bunch of people thought they saw Jesus alive after his death. That's something worth explaining. It might not get you to convert to Christianity, but it's a legitimate area for historical investigation.

Chris said...

Sorry, that should be "the Gospels were written BEFORE Paul's letters were collected and published"

Anonymous said...

Parbouj,

No, not a student of Feser's, but I am a doctoral student in a philosophy program, which is why I see through your fallacies.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

By my admittedly idiosyncratic definition, stories about the Trojan War are not "myth", but are rather fictional stories set in a mythological backdrop. Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Virgil, et.al., knew very well they were making their stories up.

An analogy closer to us in time would be the Arthurian Legend, specifically the Quest for the Holy Grail. When Malory was writing Le Morte d'Arthur, he (apparently, by Caxton's account) really did believe that he was recording true events. His accounts are genuine mythology. But when Charles Williams was writing Taliessin through Logres, he knew darn well that the events he was describing never actually occurred. He was telling a story based on an existing mythology.

B. Prokop said...

BeingItself:

In the immortal words of Herman Cain, you are mixing apples and oranges here. Did Sai Babba claim to be the Incarnate Word of God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Judge of the living and the dead, and Savior of the World? Did he tell his followers that at the End of Days, he would return with all his angels to gather the souls of humanity from the furthest reaches of creation? Did he (quite calmly) tell everyone that he was "greater than the temple", "master of the Sabbath", and could forgive sins? Most importantly, did he raise himself from the dead.

Shoot, anyone can claim to raise someone else from the dead. but to do it to yourself... now that's a Miracle!

As to whether the accounts on the link that Walter provided are true, I couldn't care less. They don't affect me. They're not asking for a commitment from me.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: "But, Walter, you should know that to anyone who believes in the inspiration of Scripture, it's quite irrelevant as to who actually wrote it. (I certainly don't care!)"

The early Christians, the ones who prayerfully put together the Canon, certainly didn't consider it irrelevant who wrote a particular putative Scripture.

Thank God for the Reformation!

Tony Hoffman said...

Chris: “Another, better reason is that we have some of Paul's letters who plainly says he saw Jesus and spoke to Peter and others that saw Jesus too.”

Well, Paul said that he saw a vision of Jesus. Paul also never knew Jesus when he was alive, so I’m always surprised how this claim from Paul is given so much credence.

Does it ever occur to you that Paul was seeking to validate his claims on religious interpretation, and establish his credentials in a hierarchical church? Do you think that the oracles at Delphi saw Apollo because they said they did? Generations of oracles said they communicated with Apollo – why would you not find their testimony more persuasive than one man (Paul’s) account that he saw a vision of a man he never met and that he spoke to a man whose authority he sought to acquire?

Chris: “The gospels (that is, the synoptic Gospels, which have some historical value) were written after Paul's letters were collected and published and thus independent of them.”

Why do multiple accounts of fantastic and plainly evolving stories increase the likelihood that the events in the story happened? Good stories tend to be popular, and they tend to evolve in response to its audience’s enthusiasm for different elements in those stories. One element of the story that we are discussing (the empty tomb) is never even mentioned by Paul. Hmmm.

Chris: “The gist we get from the gospels--forget the embellished details--is that resurrection belief arose because a bunch of people thought they saw Jesus alive after his death.”

It looks to me like the gist we get from reading a chronology that begins with Paul and goes to Mark through John shows a clear line of embellishment where a tomb gets added and Jesus’s resurrection goes from spiritual to bodily. And as the story evolves and improves and time passes and the ability to disprove some of the story’s more ridiculous elements passes, then we see the story take hold.

Chris: “So, I think a reasonable conclusion to draw from these two sources is that a bunch of people thought they saw Jesus alive after his death.”

I think an even more reasonable conclusion to draw is that a fantastic story becomes more credible when supported by the claim that many (unnamed and unavailable) people saw it. We know this from historical and personal experience – to me, demanding further explanation seems silly.

Chris: “It might not get you to convert to Christianity, but it's a legitimate area for historical investigation.”

What are you proposing by historical investigation? Are you even aware that claiming a supernatural explanation, especially when perfectly reasonable natural ones are available, is a non-starter in the field of history? Are you at all troubled that there is no archaelogical evidence for the empty Tomb, a historical anomaly that I think is harder to explain (why is there no evidence of veneration of the tomb, a shrine, etc.) than the ones offered in the OP?

Ilíon said...

VR, in the OP: "This, I think, is the best response that skeptics have to the historical case for the Resurrection."

Until the "skeptics" acknowledge that God is, they nothing meaningful to say, and they have no place at the table; until a "skeptic" acknowledges that God is, his "skepticism" isn't worth merde.

B. Prokop said...

"One element of the story that we are discussing (the empty tomb) is never even mentioned by Paul. Hmmm."

The parables of Jesus are never mentioned in Paul. Must we therefore conclude that Jesus never spoke in parables? Hmmm....

The Battle of Novorossisk is never mentioned in Winston Churchill's History of the Second World War. Does that mean that there was no such battle? Hmmm....

B. Prokop said...

"Are you even aware that claiming a supernatural explanation, especially when perfectly reasonable natural ones are available, is a non-starter in the field of history?"

Showing our biases here??? By the way, the above attitude was smashed beyond repair in C.S. Lewis's Miracles. The the holders of such are still gasping for breath, unable to regain their balance.

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob, that you appear to think that the field of History (as it is practiced today) contains supernatural explanations demonstrates more about your confined and intractable worldview than my argument here.

Walter said...

As to whether the accounts on the link that Walter provided are true, I couldn't care less. They don't affect me. They're not asking for a commitment from me.

No thoughts at all? Whether you care about them personally, the question is do you think they really are supernatural events?

Most Christians when confronted with these stories will either don their skeptic hats, making them sound a lot like skeptics of Christianity, or they will claim the stories are likely true, but that Sai Baba's power was from Satan.

Chris said...

Tony,

Before, we go on, you should know that I am only proposing that 1) some people really thought they saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion, and 2) it is reasonable to ask historical questions about this strange phenomenon, but unreasonable to ask the same kind of question about a story about a cyclops (other than questions about its literary history).

I'm not arguing for supernatural resurrection. Notice I tried to defend hallucination theory from some of Bob'a misguided criticisms above.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

It would be the height of arrogance on my part to opine about something like this, of which I had never even heard of until a few hours ago. There appears to be from your link a great deal of data to sift through (something I am not the least motivated to do, due to the reasons I gave in the posting that you quoted from). You seriously expect me to spout off with any degree of seriousness when I know nothing about the topic other than what's on a single website? Gimme a break!

Tony,

Confined worldview? Given that you were the one to dismiss an explanation out of hand ("non-starter" was the term, I believe) and not me, I think it is rather your worldview that is "confined".

Tony Hoffman said...

Chris: “Before, we go on, you should know that I am only proposing that 1) some people really thought they saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion...”

Okay. And I am suggesting that accounts that some people saw Jesus’s alive after his death could simply be an embellishment. I see no reason to (necessarily) accept that anyone thought they saw Jesus after his death when it seems just as likely (and simpler) that these stories were made up by those who sought to lend credence to their religious belief and enhance their own position of authority.

Chris: “...and 2) it is reasonable to ask historical questions about this strange phenomenon, but unreasonable to ask the same kind of question about a story about a cyclops (other than questions about its literary history).”

But isn’t the answer to the historical question very likely the same – that people make up, embellish, add to, and are often just mistaken about stories and elements of those stories? In other words, why take what appears to be the most likely explanation for the fantastical elements of the Gospels off the table entirely?

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob: "Confined worldview? Given that you were the one to dismiss an explanation out of hand ("non-starter" was the term, I believe) and not me, I think it is rather your worldview that is "confined"."

So, you think that History (as it is practiced today) contains supernatural explanations then? Like I said, if that's your position, then I think you have shown yourself to be fairly out of touch on this subject.

Walter said...

It would be the height of arrogance on my part to opine about something like this, of which I had never even heard of until a few hours ago. There appears to be from your link a great deal of data to sift through (something I am not the least motivated to do, due to the reasons I gave in the posting that you quoted from). You seriously expect me to spout off with any degree of seriousness when I know nothing about the topic other than what's on a single website? Gimme a break!

Yeah, I get it. You're not interested because Sai Baba is not promising you eternal bliss after your death.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

Help me out here. Correct me if I'm getting this wrong, but from your recent comments, I gather the following:

1) As long as I adhere to my worldview, gained by a lifetime of serious study and deep reflection, I am being "confined and intractable".

2) But (at least by implication) as long as you, Tony, adhere to your own opinions, you are being broadminded and enlightened.

Did I miss anything here, or does that basically sum it up?

Also, as to being "out of touch" with the subject of History, you might like to know that I happen to be a professional (not amateur) historian, and have been for decades.

B. Prokop said...

No, Walter, you did not get it. Not in the least.

I'm not interested, because Sai Baba is not asking me to "Repent and believe in the Good News". He's not telling me that I need to look into my inmost being and find (exactly, embarrassingly, and painfully) where I am being displeasing to God, and that I must change my behavior. He's not holding up a mirror to my soul, not letting me overlook my sins. He's not teaching me that God has great plans for me,and that the only thing in His way is my own fallen state, for which the sole cure is His Only Begotten Son. "Eternal Bliss"? I'll have time to worry about such stuff after I allow God to get my house in order.

You might find this hard to believe, but I don't spend much time in thinking about "eternal bliss".

BeingItself said...

B. Prokop,

It seems you are missing something important.

Suppose the Sai Babba resurrection stories are true. Just suppose that only one-half of all the thousands of reports of people coming back to life are true.

Then does that not reduce the significance of the Jesus story? Of course it does. It should produce nothing but a yawn.

Chris said...

Tony,

Though there probably were some people that claimed to see the risen Jesus in order to enhance their position of authority, I don't think that's how resurrection belief got started, for three reasons:

1) While new religious groups, and millenarian groups in particular, make up weird stuff all the time to keep their movements going in the face of failed expectations, they often take the path of least resistence, as Ben said above. It's not that making up stuff is unlikely, it's just that they had better options available. They could have said Jesus would be risen in the general resurrection with everyone else and then take his throne as king of Israel. That way, they wouldn't have to revise the Jewish belief about the resurrection, which was that everybody gets raised at the same time after the Kingdom of God comes, not one person ahead of time.

2) Though I think the apologetic "die for a lie" argument is weak--we really don't where, when, why, or how the disciples died--I must admit the early Christians probably did endure some persecution from some Jews. Paul says he persecuted Christians "violently" and I see no reason to think he's lying. I don't think the movement would have survived unless at least a few of them--probably leaders like Peter and James--strongly believed in what they were selling.

3) Skeptics often use the principle of analogy to argue that since the miraculous stuff in the gospels is kind of like stuff in myths, then the gospels are myths. For the reasons above, I don't think this works. But I do find a strong argument from analogy when looking at the many of reports of encounters with the dead by their bereaving friends and families. I've already plugged Dale Allison's book on this thread and I'll do so again now. Read _Resurrecting Jesus_ and you'll see that these visions are very common, are preceived as solid figures instead of shadowy ghosts, are sometimes seen by more than one person, and so on.

I'm not completely convinced by these reasons; far from it. At this time, I can't endorse any explanation for the Resurrection with confidence. I will say that hallucinations + retellling & embellishment seems more likely than completely making it up +
retelling & embellishment.

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob: “Correct me if I'm getting this wrong, but from your recent comments, I gather the following:”

Bob, you can gather whatever you like. I’m just not really interested in what you gather. If you have arguments and evidence, then I’m more interested.

Bob: “Also, as to being "out of touch" with the subject of History, you might like to know that I happen to be a professional (not amateur) historian, and have been for decades.”

Good, then you won’t mind answer my question. I’ll repeat it for you, and I’d appreciate a direct response:

Do you think that History (as it is practiced today) contains supernatural explanations?

If you do, I’d love a reference to a historical document you’ve published that makes use of supernatural explanation.

B. Prokop said...

"It seems you are missing something important."

Trying desperately to not just argumentative here, but no, it is you who are missing Something Important. And that is: there is a huge, an immeasurably great, difference between a person raising someone else from the dead, and a person (Christ)raising Himself from the dead.

There is an unbridgeable gulf between the two things. The gap is so huge that we're talking about two completely different subjects here. There are many, many accounts (some true, some false) throughout history of people being raised from the dead - there is but one of a person raising Himself.

Chris said...

Bob,

According to this book,

http://www.amazon.com/Sai-Baba-Miracles-Howard-Murphet/dp/0877283354#_

not only did Sai Baba raise a young boy from the dead (134-5), he himself left his body for three days and then came back, even after "Officials" declared him dead (133). The author claims to have known the eyewitnesses.

Any hey, if some people have the power to raise the dead, maybe Jesus was raised from the dead by someone other than himself. Maybe a sympathetic miracle worker wanted to see his cause carry on long, or was just playing a trick.

If we had good reason to think some people could raise themselves or others from the dead, we would have a new fascinating paranormal phenomenon to study, not evidence for one particular religion.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

Sorry to disappoint you, but my specialty is military history. When we kill 'em, they stay dead!

BeingItself said...

B. Prokop,

How do you know Jesus raised himself from the dead? The event was not witnessed.

Unless you rely on the Gospel of Peter, which seems your only play here.

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob,

4th time now (I think). Do you think that History (as it is practiced today) contains supernatural explanations?

Also, why should military history preclude supernatural explanations? Are you saying that God is limited in what he can do, and where?

Do you think that your field can't contain a supernatural explanation because God won't intervene in martial events? Or do you acknowledge that you would get laughed out of the room if you submitted a paper that included "because of God's involvement" as part of your explanation?

Tony Hoffman said...

Chris,

I’ll address your three reasons one at time, as you have:

Chris: “They could have said Jesus would be risen in the general resurrection with everyone else and then take his throne as king of Israel. That way, they wouldn't have to revise the Jewish belief about the resurrection, which was that everybody gets raised at the same time after the Kingdom of God comes, not one person ahead of time.”

Yes, they could have. And it’s perfectly likely that some did. But if you view history as a filter through which things pass, then those who preached that Jesus actually did rise proved to be more successful at converting.

Chris: “I don't think the movement would have survived unless at least a few of them--probably leaders like Peter and James--strongly believed in what they were selling.”

They could have been deluded. Just as likely, they could have committed themselves, and when the stakes were raised they anted up. People can also convince themselves of things. Look at Harold Camping – do you think he’s purposely manipulating people, or do you think he’s also deceived himself? It’s hard to say, but this sort of thing is complicated. But history shows us that there’s no shortage of people willing to risk it all for even marginal gain. (Do you know the story of the Hermit from the first Crusade – name I forget right now -- and what he willingly endured in order to prove he was a true prophet? He walked across coals, as I recall, and soon after died.)

Chris: “Skeptics often use the principle of analogy to argue that since the miraculous stuff in the gospels is kind of like stuff in myths, then the gospels are myths.”

Not exactly. Skeptics contend that the stuff in the Gospels is so similar to myths (and other crazy stuff that people believe and are then shown to be false) that the Gospels appear to be no different than the same kinds of stories that Christians now dismiss as false. Moreover, the Gospels suffer from the same problems of verifiability, etc. that fantastical stories of the past do.

Chris: “But I do find a strong argument from analogy when looking at the many of reports of encounters with the dead by their bereaving friends and families. I've already plugged Dale Allison's book on this thread and I'll do so again now. Read _Resurrecting Jesus_ and you'll see that these visions are very common, are preceived as solid figures instead of shadowy ghosts, are sometimes seen by more than one person, and so on.”

Well, then there are two options for you to explore. If the events in Dale Allison’s book are truly supernatural events, then we have a whole different landscape with which to view the Gospels (and other stories from the past about supernatural events). But if you are going to be sincerely honest about your investigation, you should consider that contemporary cases that you describe are in fact instances of people being deceived, deceiving themselves, etc., and that these modern occurrences can explain past reports of supernatural events better than the theory that God chose to intervene in human affairs in a largely illiterate, wholly superstitious, and completely (to our efforts) sealed off environment where we have the testimony of a few men, who were vying for power and authority, that they had special access to a God who won’t deign to show himself to us.

Chris said...

Tony: "if you are going to be sincerely honest about your investigation, you should consider that contemporary cases that you describe are in fact instances of people being deceived, deceiving themselves, etc.,"

Well, yeah, I do think these contemporary cases are probably instances of people being deceived, not deliberately, but by grief-induced hallucinations.

Tony: "and that these modern occurrences can explain past reports of supernatural events better than the theory that God chose to intervene in human affairs..."

Right. I am not a Christian apologist. I never said a supernatural resurrection is a better explanation for the rise of resurrection belief than anything else. I'm just saying that hallucination is a better explanation than deliberate deception.

You make a good point about how people are willing to endure big pain for small gain though.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

"Do you think that History (as it is practiced today) contains supernatural explanations?"

Well, in Chapter 8 of my own book, Goalpost, The Battle for Port Lyautey, 1942, the commanding officer of the destroyer USS Dallas, when interviewed, explicitly credits divine intervention for allowing his ship to slip past Axis shore defenses on the Sebou River to accomplish its mission of capturing the Port Lyautey airfield. In fact, the title of the Chapter is The Hand of God Around Them. Does that work for you?

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob, no -- you are avoiding my question for what, the 5th time now?

Your reference is like saying that journalists attributed the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 to God's will because of the hijackers testimony.

You should answer the question; what would happen to your claim to be a professional historian if you were to explain, in your book, not that the commander of the Dallas said he felt that God intervened but that, in fact God intervened?

Why is this question so incredibly hard for you to answer?

B. Prokop said...

BeingItself,

"How do you know Jesus raised himself from the dead?"

Oh, good grief! 'Cause the story makes no sense otherwise. To say He didn't, to posit someone else raised Him, one would have to reject unanimous consensus of the entire New Testament.

Sorry, but this conversation has descended into the ridiculous. Gimme something I can work with here, not this college dorm bull session stuff. You guys are starting to make Ilion look good!

In any case, I'm logging off to go outside and observe the Moon. Won't be back online until tomorrow. Peace!

BeingItself said...

"one would have to reject unanimous consensus of the entire New Testament"

No, one would not.

Anonymous said...

Sai Baba's exposed as a fraud.

http://robertpriddy.wordpress.com/

I doubt he will be a major religious figure in 2000 years that is followed by 1/4 of the world's population.

But it was a nice try.


From Christians

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Other%20Pagan%20Mumbo-Jumbo/sai_baba.htm

and Skeptics

http://www.iheu.org/node/968

Walter said...

Sai Baba's exposed as a fraud.

Surely you didn't just link to the Jesus-is-savior website. That place is a hoot!

BeingItself said...

Of course Sai Baba was a fraud.

Yet millions continue to worship him, and tell stories of his miracles, and expect his return.

Some beliefs are immune to rational arguments.

Walter said...

C.S. Lewis was no Christian

Lewis was a Fool

Lewis was a Heretic

Lewis Exposed

The jesus-is-savior site really nails Lewis to the wall. LOL

Victor Reppert said...

They also have a great article called "militant feminazis."

ephym said...

I am a follower, witness of Sai Baba. I saw him heal amputees, someone grew a finger back in front of my eyes in Calcutta. In peace, love, full seeing.

Ephym

BenYachov said...

What about the skeptic website on Baba?

Anonymous said...

Tony

"Do you think that History (as it is practiced today) contains supernatural explanations?"

Do you think that History (as it is practiced today) makes decisive claims about supernatural explanations either way? Does a Historian say "Christ absolutely was not raised from the dead" or "Christ certainly performed no miracles"?

The correct answer is no. History as it is practiced today is totally silent on those questions, neither endorsing nor ruling out... And this silence is of no help to the naturalist.

What is of some help is a naturalist analysis of history. But a non-naturalist analysis is also helpful to the non-naturalist. You're doing this yourself in this thread, by responding to the New Testament in terms of what you imagine could be possible in theory and what maybe-sort of happened, in spite of nearly all available historical data and testimony.

Anyone who says "Here's what God would have done or not have done in this situation..." has left history (and science) behind in favor of philosophy, metaphysics and theology.

Tony Hoffman said...

Anon, I don't think I understand your point. Are you disagreeing with me somewhere, and if so, how?

Anonymous said...

"Anon, I don't think I understand your point. Are you disagreeing with me somewhere, and if so, how?"

I answered the question you were asking (someone else). I don't see how I can tell whether or not we disagree based on my giving an answer to a question you asked.

Anyway, I think I wrote clearly. If you have questions about any specifics you can ask and I will try to answer.

B. Prokop said...

BeingItself wrote in a posting of November 05, 2011 5:14 PM, "What is your method to distinguish a 'real' miracle from a bogus report of a miracle"?

After all the give and take that followed, I've the matter some serious thought, because I wanted to provide a really clear and concise answer to his question that wasn't just typed in the heat of battle, er.. of debate. Here goes, in one sentence:

(Imagine one of those engineering flow charts that have all the decision points in boxes with arrows leading off of them labeled "yes" and "no", which take you to further actions.)

My method in distinguishing "real" from "bogus" reports of miracles is to examine the report in light of the Resurrection.

Elaboration:

a) If the alleged miracle sheds light on that key event, then it is worthwhile investigating further. By itself, passing this test does not mean I consider a report true. It simply indicates that it's worth my attention.

b) If the report does not shed light on, or is irrelevant to the Resurrection, then I ignore the report. End of story.

An example of "b" would be the alleged miracles of Sai Baba. They have nothing to say about the Resurrection; therefore I don't have to waste time investigating them. Note that under these guidelines, it doesn't mean said reports are necessarily bogus, it just means they're irrelevant.

All the miraculous accounts in the New Testament pass this test, thus falling into category "a". However, nearly every report subsequent to that time does not, and may therefore be safely discarded. But occasionally one does come across a report that, under the above rules, shows that further investigation is warranted. A good example of such would be the appearance of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego at Guadalupe in Mexico.

The above methodology is not presented as an argument to anybody for anything, so there is no need for rebuttal. I am simply answering BeingItself's question. This is how I approach all claims of the miraculous.

Hope this helps, and thanks for making me think, and thus clarify my own mental processes to myself.

BeingItself said...

B Prokop,

Thanks for the answer. I'm speechless.

Tony Hoffman said...

Anon: “Anyway, I think I wrote clearly. If you have questions about any specifics you can ask and I will try to answer.”

Okay.

You cited my latest question. They you followed that question with two of your own. Immediately after those three questions, you state this:

Anon: “The correct answer is no. History as it is practiced today is totally silent on those questions, neither endorsing nor ruling out... And this silence is of no help to the naturalist.”

Okay, that part I am clear on until the last sentence there – the “And And this silence is of no help to the naturalist,” part that starts my confusion. I think that history’s methodological naturalism is of tremendous help to naturalists, and that’s part of my point – that methodological naturalism helps us make sense of history, and a proper understanding of history is what helps us make better sense of today.

But it’s the next paragraph (I'll break into three sentences) that really throws me:

Anon: “What is of some help is a naturalist analysis of history.”

Quibble on terminology aside, if you mean what I expressed above, then I completely agree.

Anon: “But a non-naturalist analysis is also helpful to the non-naturalist.”

I suppose I just don’t know what you mean by helpful, but this sentence remains oblique to me.

Anon: “You're doing this yourself in this thread, by responding to the New Testament in terms of what you imagine could be possible in theory and what maybe-sort of happened, in spite of nearly all available historical data and testimony.”

And I just don’t know what you mean here at all.

Tony Hoffman said...

BeingItself, I join you. That about says it all right there, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Tony

"I think that history’s methodological naturalism is of tremendous help to naturalists,"

Nowhere did I say that History is methodologically naturalistic, and nowhere have you shown that it is. It is methodologically silent on questions of whether God was or was not a cause behind this or that in History. But naturalism is not silent on these matters. Likewise, the theist or non-naturalist does not analyze each and every event in history as being the will of God - their methods also include being silent about God as action or cause.

A naturalist analysis of history is not, itself, history. Just as a non-naturalist analysis of history is not, itself, history. It's an investigation of history given certain metaphysical and philosophical commitments. Arguably more compatible with the non-naturalist view than the naturalist, if men like Alex Rosenberg are right.

"I suppose I just don’t know what you mean by helpful, but this sentence remains oblique to me."

You're confusing a naturalist analysis of history for history itself.

"And I just don’t know what you mean here at all."

Show me the diary entry where Paul wrote down, "Today was a rough day. I had to lie about seeing Jesus today to convince some apostles I was legitimate. Close one!" or "Convinced everyone God endorsed my mission today, which is great because I'm mostly vying for power here." or an analysis of how God or any gods would act which leads you to give estimates about how likely or unlikely it would be for God to actually act in a given situation by means suggested.

Tony Hoffman said...

Anon: “Nowhere did I say that History is methodologically naturalistic, and nowhere have you shown that it is. It is methodologically silent on questions of whether God was or was not a cause behind this or that in History.”

Well, the study of History, as it taught and practiced in the U.S., is one of methodological naturalism. History is a soft science; anyone with a high school education knows that if they write that the reason for the Missouri Compromise was God’s will they’re not going to pass that section of the AP. You’re fooling yourself if you think this is an unsettled issue.

Anon: “But a non-naturalist analysis is also helpful to the non-naturalist.”
Me: “I suppose I just don’t know what you mean by helpful, but this sentence remains oblique to me.”
Anon: “You're confusing a naturalist analysis of history for history itself.”

This does not clarify my original question. I am getting the impression that you don’t care to try and make yourself clear.

Anon: “Show me the diary entry where Paul wrote down, "Today was a rough day. I had to lie about seeing Jesus today to convince some apostles I was legitimate. Close one!" or "Convinced everyone God endorsed my mission today, which is great because I'm mostly vying for power here." or an analysis of how God or any gods would act which leads you to give estimates about how likely or unlikely it would be for God to actually act in a given situation by means suggested.”

Yeah, from the above it appears that you don’t understand people or the study of History if you think that the above is a meaningful complaint.

Anonymous said...

Tony

"Well, the study of History, as it taught and practiced in the U.S., is one of methodological naturalism. History is a soft science; anyone with a high school education knows that if they write that the reason for the Missouri Compromise was God’s will they’re not going to pass that section of the AP. You’re fooling yourself if you think this is an unsettled issue."

It has a method alright, and that method is silent about God's work and influence in history entirely. But a naturalist is not silent: they actively deny God's existence, and therefore work and influence.

History does, however, make tremendous reference to the beliefs, motivations and goals of selves. Some naturalists are eliminativists about such things, and contrast "folk psychology" with naturalism.

The methods of current historical investigation are not methodological naturalism. Nor does the method being something other than naturalism mean that it's okay to cite God's involvement.

"This does not clarify my original question. I am getting the impression that you don’t care to try and make yourself clear."

I am drawing a line between a naturalist analysis of history and history itself. Your impression is incorrect, but I don't blame you for holding it if you can't understand what I'm saying.

"Yeah, from the above it appears that you don’t understand people or the study of History if you think that the above is a meaningful complaint."

Clearly a response like this is due to a poor relationship with a parental figure, most likely your father, which drives your current atheism.

The above is acceptable as a historical explanation of your recent actions, right? Because you just implied that pulling hypotheses out of your rear and engaging in armchair psychoanalysis is A-OK historical practice.

Maybe it is. So much for soft science, then.

Tony Hoffman said...

Anon: “It has a method alright, and that method is silent about God's work and influence in history entirely.”

Being silent about God’s work and influence sounds the same as methodological naturalism to me. Which is why I find it odd that you then write:

Anon: “The methods of current historical investigation are not methodological naturalism.”

Later...

“The above is acceptable as a historical explanation of your recent actions, right? Because you just implied that pulling hypotheses out of your rear and engaging in armchair psychoanalysis is A-OK historical practice.”

I don’t think I implied that. I was responding to what you wrote, for one, and I don’t think I’ve said anything in my comments to you or upthread that would imply that this is how History is practiced. But if you are so hostile to the topic I suppose there’s little I can do to change your mind.

Anonymous said...

Tony

"Being silent about God’s work and influence sounds the same as methodological naturalism to me."

Naturalism is not silent about these things. Far from it: naturalists actively and strenuously deny the existence and reality of these things. It's not mere silence. There's absolutely a methodology involved, a restrictive one. It's just not a naturalistic methodology.

Now, this will be the third time I point out that history as currently practiced relies on vocabulary, ideas and concepts that a number of naturalists maintain are incompatible with naturalism: folk psychology. Beliefs and goals and wants and desires and selves.

"I was responding to what you wrote, for one, and I don’t think I’ve said anything in my comments to you or upthread that would imply that this is how History is practiced."

Then your evaluations of what happened with the New Testament writers, and of the likelihood of God's action, was not history but... something else. Just as I've maintained. Or maybe you're being inconsistent.

Tony Hoffman said...

Anon: “Naturalism is not silent about these things. Far from it: naturalists actively and strenuously deny the existence and reality of these things. It's not mere silence. There's absolutely a methodology involved, a restrictive one. It's just not a naturalistic methodology.”

You appear confused about methodological and philosophical naturalism. They are not the same.

Anon: “Now, this will be the third time I point out that history as currently practiced relies on vocabulary, ideas and concepts that a number of naturalists maintain are incompatible with naturalism: folk psychology. Beliefs and goals and wants and desires and selves.”

This is nonsensical. I don’t think you understand what naturalism is, either philosophical or methodological.

Anon: “Then your evaluations of what happened with the New Testament writers, and of the likelihood of God's action, was not history but... something else. Just as I've maintained. Or maybe you're being inconsistent.

I’m still not sure what is you’re trying to maintain. And go ahead and show me where you think I’m being inconsistent.

Edward T. Babinski said...

RESURRECTION?!
Why not start by admitting the obvious, that stories of miracles of a wide variety can be found in both Jewish and Hellenistic cultures with little in the way of questioning such tales, except to claim either that they didn't happen or the devil did it. Even today Muslims in Egypt have claimed that the devil did it when a Coptic Christian passes along a Christian miracle tale, and vice versa.

Today people attempt to investigate miraculous claims, including the Catholic Church which has a special bureau to investigate claims of healing at the Fatima shrine, and out of the tens of millions of sick people who have visited Fatima since the 1800s there's extremely few cases that even the Church accepts as likely "miracles." In the first century I imagine the case was complete reversed since they had little knowledge of how to even begin to investigate claims of healings or exorcisms, and they thrived on such tales. There were healers and exorcists throughout the Jewish and Hellenistic worlds, while stories of Jesus' grand nature miracles were, by the Gospels own admission, shown to only a few, and only to believers, including his resurrection and ascension. More on those below.

Can we take modern historical techniques and investigate miraculous tales from the first century and claim that we have raised the probability that a miracle has occurred? I don't see how we can. Even Licona admits that say, the tale in Matthew of the raising of many saints fits other such miraculous tales from both the Jewish and Hellenistic worlds. But if people could believe such a tale about many raised saints long dead, rising from many tombs, then I don't imagine there was much they could not believe.

The Gospels were composed in a world where miracles where the bread and butter of religious commerce, and where Emperors were called "divine" and "savior," and worshipped and "born of virgins" and "ascended into heaven," and where the Jews believed God was so on their side such that they could defeat Rome, and tried it twice in Palestine, and where Messiahs had thousands of followers. Crazy times breed crazy stories. At least one good story was bound to come out of that pressure-cooked generation, which was boiling over from the days of the book of Daniel and kept right on boiling till the second revolt against Rome. (But myths take a hundred to two hundred years!) Do they? Myths and legends and stories can pass like wildfire and arise even in the lifetime of the person they are about, even from that person's own mouth, from Sabbati Sevi to Sadhu Sundar Singh (to Haile Sallasie). Especially if the times are bubbling over as they were back then. Myths, stories and legends cook faster that way.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Moreover, the Gospel stories raise all sort of questions simply when you compare them. They appear to be rewrites over time, not great evidence of eyewitness testimony. That is the conclusion of a sizeable number of biblical scholars. At the very least it is a major opinion of well informed scholars, including those who hypothesize less rewriting, since even they admit that some rewriting has occurred over time from earlier Gospel stories to later ones:
THE GOSPELS AS REWRITES OF ONE ANOTHER

Are the Gospels "rewrites" of one another? L. Michael White in his award winning work, Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite (2010), presents exactly that hypothesis: http://www.amazon.com/Scripting-Jesus-L-Michael-White/dp/0061228796

Another recent work, Rewriting the Feeding of Five Thousand (Studies in Biblical Literature) by Steven A. Hunt (2011), presents the most extensive argumentation to date that the author of the fourth Gospel rewrote the feeding of the five thousand based on earlier written accounts coupled with his own theological imagination. http://www.amazon.com/Rewriting-Feeding-Thousand-Biblical-Literature/dp/143310606X/ref=wl_it_dp_o_npd?ie=UTF8&coliid=I1SYECKG3C9L4R&colid=3KKLY02YFTRNF (And if you one wants to examine the full range of questions concerning the story of the feeding of the five thousand, then I suggest another recent work, Feeding the Five Thousand: Studies in the Judaic Background of Mark 6:30-44 par. and John 6:1-15 (Studies in Judaism) by Roger David Aus (2010) http://www.amazon.com/Feeding-Five-Thousand-Studies-Background/dp/0761851526/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320164922&sr=1-1 )

Speaking of rewrites, see the recent article, "Matthew's Use of Mark: Did Matthew Intend to Supplement or to Replace His Primary Source?" by David C. Sim, New Testament Studies, Volume 57, Issue 02, April 2011, pp 176 - 192.

Evangelicals seem to be playing their own game of Pascal's Wager when it comes to biblical scholarship. Their wager might be called, "Pascal's Biblical Studies Wager," and depends on getting people to affirm the views of Evangelical biblical scholars, otherwise one risks following the wrong scholars with all their questions and thus wagering away one's eternal salvation. When in fact, bilbical studies are more diversified in their interpretations and arguments than even the Evangelicals who contribute to the different "viewpoint series" published by Zondervan and InverVarsity admit.

Edward T. Babinski said...

It seems obvious that Gospel stories changed. One can plainly read and see for yourself what things were added or deleted in each Gospel. Moreover one can see for one's self how Matthew and Luke differ most from Mark in exactly the places where they could not follow Mark because Mark was silent (nativity and post-resurrection stories). Or one can read where Matthew adds to Jesus' death the story of an earthquake, saints being resurrected from opened tombs, "terrified" Roman guards seeing such things causing them to exclaim TOGETHER, "Surely this was the son of God!" (Compare Mark, that only has a single Roman say the line, while staring at Jesus, and hearing his last cry, not a group of Romans who are "terrified" apparently by the freshly introduced story of an earthquake and opened graves, who cry in unison, "This was the son of God!") Matthew also adds a second earthquake and an angel coming down out of heaven who opens the tomb, and guards who fall down on the ground. And Jewish bribery. What DIDN'T Matthew add! Yet Matthew's verses--from Jesus' last words to the message at the tomb remain the same as in Mark. It's just the "inbetween" stuff that's so far out there.

You can even count the number of words alleged to have been spoken by the resurrected Jesus, from Mark to Matthew to Luke to John and note the word count rising. http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2010/03/word-about-growing-words-of-resurrected.html By the time you get to Acts, Jesus is supposed to have remained on earth for weeks and taught and shared meals with his disciples, which assumes even MORE words spoken by the resurrected Jesus per that document. And John ends with the words that "perhaps" the whole world couldn't contain all the books if everything Jesus did were written down, which seems to admit that the flood gates of legends about Jesus were far from closed but flowing quite nicely in his day.

The fouth and final Gospel (FG) is on in which the author tries to outdo all previous Gospels by having Jesus recognized and declared to be Logos, Messiah, God's chosen one, son of God, King of Israel, and Lamb of God in the very first chapter. In other words the FG author does not wait until later in Jesus' ministry for Peter alone to declare Jesus is the Messiah as in Mark and Matthew.

“Lamb of God” is a unique term found only in the FG and probably the author's own creation like "Logos" because the FG is also the only one that has Jesus die while the “lambs” are being slain for Passover (to go with his Lamb of God epithet that he put in the Baptist's mouth, in fact the author of the FG puts quite a lot of words in the Baptist's mouth, longer recitations than found in previous Gospels), but the other Gospels have Jesus celebrating a Passover meal, eating the lamb that had been slain the day before Passover. Instead, the FG does not mention Jesus celebrating a Passover meal with his disciples, but adds Passover imagery and words like those spoken in the other Gospels (about eating his body and blood) after the story of the feeding of the multitude. The FG writer certainly appears to have been trying to outdo the rest, and using his theological imagination to do so, changing round things in his telling. His repetition that his words are "true" also seems to be an attempt to out do previous Gospels, just as Luke's opening suggests that his Gospel was meant to supersede previous Gospels (Mark and Matthew). One upmanship is what it's called. The paper I mentioned above also notices the same trend even moving from Mark to Matthew.

Edward T. Babinski said...

The FG is also the only one that includes the story of Jesus raising a person who had been dead for three days and making that resurrection miracle the real reason why the Pharisees sought to kill Jesus. That outdoes the previous Gospels that only have Jesus raising a woman who was nearly dead or just died per Mark and Matthew. Now Jesus raises someone dead for several days, and the Pharisees seek to kill Jesus because of this new miracle that none of the other Gospels mention. The Pharisees fear too many people will follow Jesus and their home will be taken away, so Jesus must die. The other Gospels declare that the reason the Pharisees sought to kill Jesus was because of the table turning episode in the Temple. But the author of the FG places that episode at the beginning of Jesus' ministry not the end. I guess that's one way to highlight the new miracle story that no one ever heard about before. For more on the FG’s literary creativity see http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/02/perfumed-jesus.html

Edward T. Babinski said...

And what about the way God performs spectacular miraculous stunts in view of many in the OT, but in front of far fewer people in the NT? Even the story about Jesus feeding the multitude doesn’t have the multitude themselves recognize or exclaim that a miracle had occurred--not in the earliest versions [see endnote]. Moreover, Jesus spends most of his time in smaller towns, doesn't visit any large ones he was within walking range of, none but Jerusalem, where they kill him. Does he split a sea in sight of hundreds of thousands of Jews, a mixed multitude and Pharaoh’s army? No, Jesus walks on water and stills the sea, being seen only by a small boatload of disciples. Does Jesus' face light up for all Israel to see? No. He only lights up on a mountaintop for three disciples to see. Does Jesus exit the tomb for all to see? No, no one sees Jesus exit the tomb. At his ascension into heaven does Jesus rise on a fiery chariot? No, he rises to heaven quietly at night seen only by the eleven remaining disciples. Does the resurrected Jesus stroll out of Jerusalem with people shouting Hosannas and waving palms? No, instead Luke says the raised Jesus "led them [from Jerusalem] to Bethany" at night--very quietly it seems because only the apostles were with him. The Gospels strain credulity in obvious ways.
And the change in the message at the tomb that Mark and Matthew agree upon, and that Luke and John alter, is plainly jarring. The message is no longer, "He has gone on before you to Galilee, for there ye shall see him." Instead in Luke and John the raised Jesus now appears first to his disciples in Jerusalem and even tells the disciples to remain in Jerusalem. One's head is likely to spin off one's shoulders at such changes in the retelling. Or how Mark’s “young man in a long white garment” inside the tomb, is transformed by Matthew into "the angel of the Lord who descended from heaven; his countenance like lightening, and his raiment white as snow" who sits on the stone outside the tomb and terrifies the guards, and how one angel in Mark and Matthew wasn’t enough for Luke and John who retell the story using two of them, "two men in shining garments . . . a vision of angels" (Luke 24:4 & 23), "two angels in white" (John). In reference to the "young man," one also can't help but note that none of the other Gospels contain the story found only in Mark of the “young man” who was the last to leave Jesus at Jesus’ arrest. Isn't Mark suggesting that the "young man" who was the last to leave Jesus at his arrest was also the first at the empty tomb Sunday morning? Later Gospel authors rewrote the scene dropping both "young men" references in Mark in favor of "an angel that descends from heaven in Matthew," or even "two angels" in the last retellings. That is the kind of gullibility we see growing right before our eyes.

Speaking again of the way the NT miracles of Jesus are seen by so few people compared with OT miracles, compare the OT tale about Yahweh destroying Sodom and Gomorrah with the Gospel tale about the apostles being rejected in a town and asking Jesus if they should not call down fire from heaven on such a town. And Jesus says don't do it (perhaps because Jesus thought the world was going to be judged soon enough *smile*). But the intent of the NT version of the tale seems is be to say to the reader that they could do it. Sure. Like Jesus could walk on water, calm the storm, light up on mountaintops, walk from Jerusalem to Bethany after being raised from the dead with fish in his belly (Luke), and ascend from earth up into heaven, so long as only a few people (all disciples) were the only one's looking.

Edward T. Babinski said...

This blog series on Maurice Casey's recent case against the resurrection is also fascinating along with the comments:

http://remnantofgiants.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/caseys-jesus-1-apologetic-works/

Anonymous said...

"You appear confused about methodological and philosophical naturalism. They are not the same."

Of course they aren't the same. But history does not adhere to methodological naturalism. You appear to think that if something is silent about God, that suffices to make it naturalistic at least in a methodical sense. That's incorrect.

"This is nonsensical. I don’t think you understand what naturalism is, either philosophical or methodological."

Most naturalists don't understand what naturalism is. Look at the SEP entry for it.

But there are naturalists like Alex Rosenberg who maintain that folk psychology must be jettisoned on naturalism. And history makes abundant use of folk psychology in its methods. It's methodological non-naturalism. Or, as I've been saying, using a method that is neutral between natural and non-naturalism.

But methodological naturalism, it is not.

"I’m still not sure what is you’re trying to maintain. And go ahead and show me where you think I’m being inconsistent."

I have been. Exactly which part is confusing to you? The idea that making up imaginary stories about the motivations of people in history is questionable historical practice? Or that making judgment calls about the likelihood of God intervening in history is also questionable?

Anonymous said...

Ed, stop pasting garbage out of your notebooks into every thread you enter. It just encourages people to skip your comments.

Ilíon said...

If "methodological naturalism" really is so distinct from "philosophical naturalism", rather than being a stalking-horse for it, then why are you pseudo-atheists freaking out about "methodological super-naturalism" or "methodological designism"?

You’re freaking out because you’re intellectual hypocrites.

Ilíon said...

"... It just encourages people to skip your comments."

I certainly did.

B. Prokop said...

I slogged through them all, but I'm not sure why. Ed started out his stream of semi-consciousness by (perhaps unconsciously) admitting to all that he had prejudged the whole issue and his mind was closed, demonstrated by his use of all caps in his first line of the first posting. (Note to Ed: Don't try for faux irony. You're not good at it.)

Ed, Christians are not Muslims. The New Testament is not a book like the Koran, supposedly dictated straight from the mouth of God in final form, needing no editing. From the very beginning, the Church has gloried in a text that arose from multiple authors over many years, all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So if you think you're "scoring a point" by calling out the obvious, you're not!

So when some skeptic tries (lamely) to disconcert me by pointing out, for example, that the ending of Mark is an addition to the original text, I respond, "So what? It's still inspired."

And as for the Gospels growing in length, isn't that a logical process? Even today after a news event, first we have the over-the-air bulletins (short and concise), then we have the newspaper articles (with more detail), and finally the analysis (examining the deeper implications).

Ed, you got nothing!

Walter said...

So when some skeptic tries (lamely) to disconcert me by pointing out, for example, that the ending of Mark is an addition to the original text, I respond, "So what? It's still inspired."

Your view seems very comparable to that of Randal Rauser's view of biblical inspiration. Rauser holds to an adoptionist model of inspiration, where God "adopted" errant, human texts to spread his word. Of course, this viewpoint is entirely unfalsifiable since there is no way to distinguish an "adopted" set of texts from ones that aren't--especially problematic for protestants like Randal and skeptics like myself who don't believe the Catholic Church is invested with any special authority to declare certain texts to be divinely inspired.

B. Prokop said...

Never heard of Randal Rauser. And, yes, my view on scriptural inspiration is straight Catholic Orthodoxy. How the sausage was made is irrelevant. What matters is how good it tastes!

(And again, the Protestants have a huge problem with what is and is not scripture - in fact, an unsolvable problem. Somewhere along the line, you either have to acknowledge an extra-Biblical authority capable of determining the Canon, or you end up with the very problem of unfalsifiability you mentioned.)

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

And by the way, the issue of multiple authors for various New Testament books is, when you get down to it, no different in principle from acknowledging a multiple authorship for parts of the Old Testament.

No one seriously believes that all 150 Psalms were composed by David. It's screamingly obvious that Job had at least two authors. Only God knows (literally) how many people contributed to the Pentateuch. It's generally acknowledged that there are two Isaiahs. I could go on, but you get the drift.

So if there were two or more writers in Mark, it's no Big Deal. As the old line goes, "Nothing to see here. Move along!"

Walter said...

Never heard of Randal Rauser

You would probably like his blog--despite his protestant views.

Randal Rauser


Randal Rauser is a systematic and analytic theologian of evangelical persuasion. He is driven by apologetic concerns and above all by the tireless pursuit of truth. The downside is that this requires him to recognize when he is wrong (which is often) for truth is complex and it offers us no guarantees that we shall always find it. At the same time, Randal does not despair of finding truth, for he believes that in a profound sense Jesus Christ is the truth.

For Randal, being like Jesus means knowing the truth, loving the truth, and living the truth. As Randal seeks to live the truth he promotes a culture of life that is anti-militaristic and pro-family, pro-environment and anti-abortion, anti-consumerist and pro-animal. A disciple on the way … alas, he is not half as smart or as good or as right as he thinks he is.

B. Prokop said...

I think my problem with not being familiar with a lot of the names that come up on Dangerous Idea is that this is the only religion/philosophy website I regularly follow. All of the others are astronomy or science related. My two favorite blogs are http://planetary.org/blog and http://www.universetoday.com/ (the latter being run, I suspect from some of the comments, by an atheist - but it still has loads of cool stuff).

Tony Hoffman said...

Anon: "But history does not adhere to methodological naturalism. You appear to think that if something is silent about God, that suffices to make it naturalistic at least in a methodical sense. That's incorrect."

Um, no. Remaining silent about God is pretty much what methodological naturalism is. If God exists, he is superfluous to the explanation. That pretty much sums up methodological naturalism, and it's why it appears that you have still failed to understand exactly what methodological naturalism is.

Anon: "Most naturalists don't understand what naturalism is. Look at the SEP entry for it."

Seeing as how it appears that you don't understand what methodological naturalism is, I don't have high hopes for your declaration that others don't understand philosophical naturalism.

Anon: "But there are naturalists like Alex Rosenberg who maintain that folk psychology must be jettisoned on naturalism. And history makes abundant use of folk psychology in its methods. It's methodological non-naturalism. Or, as I've been saying, using a method that is neutral between natural and non-naturalism."

This is your argument? That somebody named Alex Rosenberg has declared something, therefore it is true? Argument from authority much?

Anon: "But methodological naturalism, it is not."

Nope. Saying it over and over doesn't make it so. Do you have an argument that you can make, or are you just going to keep on repeating yourself? Because this is getting tiresome.

Me: "I’m still not sure what is you’re trying to maintain. And go ahead and show me where you think I’m being inconsistent."
Anon: "I have been. Exactly which part is confusing to you? The idea that making up imaginary stories about the motivations of people in history is questionable historical practice? Or that making judgment calls about the likelihood of God intervening in history is also questionable?"

Yeah, there are so many problems in this last and your previous comments that I almost don't know where to start. Can you please refine your criticism to one thing -- maybe show how it I have done what you describe above (I'd recommend citing me -- I'd like to see what I've written that has led you to summarize as you have above), and explaining how this appears inconsistent to you?

BenYachov said...

>This is your argument? That somebody named Alex Rosenberg has declared something, therefore it is true? Argument from authority much?

Alex Rosenberg is an excellent Atheist philosopher & his arguments are tight.

Tony, seriously Dawkins is rotting your brain.

Tony Hoffman said...

BY: "Alex Rosenberg is an excellent Atheist philosopher & his arguments are tight."

Ha! Defending an argument from Authority by repeating the fallacy. Double point bonus to Ben!

BenYachov said...

>Ha! Defending an argument from Authority by repeating the fallacy. Double point bonus to Ben!

Argument from Ignorance fallacy.

"I Tony have never read Rosenberg therefore his philosophical arguments are invalid."

Tony you used to be so intelligent now you have descended to the level of Paps.

Dawkins rots your brain.

Tony Hoffman said...

Me: "Ha! Defending an argument from Authority by repeating the fallacy. Double point bonus to Ben!"
BY: "Argument from Ignorance fallacy."

Um, no. Argument from ignorance is when you say, "I don't know or not this, therefore this." It's arbitrarily setting an unproven explanation as the default. Swing. Miss. Ben.

Ben: "I Tony have never read Rosenberg therefore his philosophical arguments are invalid."

The false summary. The BY staple. Is it poor reading comprehension? Bad writing skills? Or the inability to think clearly? All we know is, none of that stops him!

BY: "Dawkins rots your brain."

Yawn.

Okay, I'm back to ignoring what you write. Although I have to admit that when you write tiny entries like these last few I have been tempted to read what you wrote. Still wasting my time, but not so much of it. And it's nice to see that my earlier decisions over the past few weeks to skip over your comments has almost certainly been a wise one.

Anyway, if all we have here is Ben talking to himself, I'm going to start to check in here less and less. Cheers.

BenYachov said...

>Um, no. Argument from ignorance is when you say, "I don't know or not this, therefore this."

Didn't you write?
"That is your argument? That somebody named Alex Rosenberg has declared something, therefore it is true?"

A clear argument from ignorance by your own definition.

Yep a response worthy of Paps.

Dawkins rots your brain.

Go read Rosenberg it will do you a world of good.

AN ATHEIST'S GUILD TO REALITY. By Alex Rosenberg.

You could use some reality at this point Tony.

BenYachov said...

@Tony
>Okay, I'm back to ignoring what you write.

Which is to date your traditional response to losing an argument when the facts are shown not to jive with your bullshit.

Because if you admit one mistake to a superstitious God bother-er like me that will somehow make God exist and overthrow your whole world view.

Tony you really need have more faith in your faithlessness.

Just saying.

See you later.

parbouj said...

People need to just talk about Rosenberg, not use Rosenberg as some kind of representative of mainstream naturalism. He is not.

I am not either, and I realize that, in case anyone is wondering (I am a Platonist and naturalist, which is out of fashion for the time being, until people think a bit more about Godel, math, logic, and truth).

Tony Hoffman said...

Parabouj: " People need to just talk about Rosenberg, not use Rosenberg as some kind of representative of mainstream naturalism. He is not."

I've also found it helpful to summarize a person's argument (assuming it is relevant) rather than mention their name. I've found that sometimes keeps things moving along.

parbouj said...

What do you expect from another Feser parrot. Feser teaches students to regurgitate what he has said (just look at his reviews at RateMyProf). He does not teach people to think, argue, reflect, engage, but to parrot.

Which is sort of fitting for a Catholic. {g of condescension}

Ilíon said...

"And, yes, my view on scriptural inspiration is straight Catholic Orthodoxy. How the sausage was made is irrelevant. What matters is how good it tastes!

(And again, the Protestants have a huge problem with what is and is not scripture - in fact, an unsolvable problem. ...
"

So, now "straight Catholic Orthodoxy" is equivalent to fideism?

Gott sei dank für den 'Protestant Reformation'.

BeingItself said...

Tony,

I'm about 100 pages into the Rosenberg book. His arguments are not "tight", and for someone supposedly guided by science he sure gets a bunch of science wrong. Regardless, it's probably worth reading.

Re: B.Prokop's jaw dropping answer. Yes, that said it all. What is the point of conversing with someone so far down the rabbit hole? There is none.

BenYachov said...

Beingitself wrote:
>I'm about 100 pages into the Rosenberg book. His arguments are not "tight", and for someone supposedly guided by science he sure gets a bunch of science wrong.

Or is it more likely you still can't tell the difference between scientific argument vs philosophical analysis even when done by someone like Rosenberg who openly advocates scientism but follows it implications to it's ultimate conclusion?

parbouj wrote:
>What do you expect from another Feser parrot.

I think your are just a little bit bitter because all the other Atheists and Theists arguing about Rosenberg over at Feser's blog ignored your silly over generalization.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/11/reading-rosenberg-part-ii.html

QUOTE"Good to know he[Rosenberg] is advocating something that most naturalists don't subscribe to: scientism (a methodological doctrine). Most naturalists are metaphysical naturalists, not methodological naturalists.....etc"

November 5, 2011 9:39 PM

No takers? Even djindra the resident Cult of the Gnu Troll was taken more seriously.

BenYachov said...

"Scientism is a a methodological doctrine?"

"Remaining silent about God is pretty much what methodological naturalism is."

Says who? Is there an Atheist Pope or Infidel Ecumenical Council that has defined these concepts ex cathedra?

On what rational basis should I accept or reject either of these definitions?

(Especially if I where to throw the religious naturalism of someone like Drees into the mix)

To answer this we could seek out experts on the history of philosophy and the use of philosophical terminology & see what they say but then Tony would stamp his feet whining "No fair Argument from Authority!" if the definition doesn't meet his expectations.

We could try to use science since BeingItself seems to believe that is the sole means to knowing anything (since philosophy is bullshit) thought I don't know how one might model such an experiment to find out if these definitions are true or not?

Or is this just Tony or BeingItself's subjective preference for a particular definition?

In which case it seems to me to be a tad hypocritical to mock poor Bob for his seeming subjective judgements regarding the Holy Faith.

parbouj said...

Ben my comment was right on target, and I appreciate you mentioning it here. If you wish to discuss it, good. Can you discuss anything without just linking to your High Priest Feser? Parroting his crap about how Rosenberg is so great, when in fact he simply confirms Feser's biases! No wonder Feser is stuck teaching at some crappy community college. He can't even reach the level of UC Merced.

I have noticed a lot of Christians on this blog like to think they have refuted Naturalism when they attack a particular naturalist. Good to know: now I can refute all of Christianity by refuting Mary Baker Eddy.

Ilíon said...

"I have noticed a lot of Christians on this blog like to think they have refuted Naturalism when they attack a particular naturalist."

How odd. What I've noticed is this: no matter where you go, there you are. And, also, that when you get there, just about every 'naturalist' you encounter is going to be illogical (and irrational) or intellectually dishonest, or both, as is the case with parbouj.

"Good to know: now I can refute all of Christianity by refuting Mary Baker Eddy."

As I said: both illogical and intellectually dishonest; even if Mary Baker Eddy were a Christian.

Ilíon said...

What parbouj is continuously asserting on DI is akin to this ---

Suppose that Richard Dawkins were to logically prove (I know! but this is a hypothetical, so please bear with me) that Christianity, specifically among all religions, is false; and not merely that it is false, but that it *cannot* be true. Such a proof could, after all, be offered in principle (*). And, suppose that I and many other Christians were to respond: “Well, sure. BUT, until you prove that each one of us, individually, is wrong in believing, or at least asserting, that Christianity is true, then you haven’t proven squat.

Would parbouj, or any other ‘naturalist’, accept that line of argument/response as being logically and rationally valid? You know they wouldn’t, for it isn’t: such an argument is not merely illogical, it is anti-logical; it is not merely irrational, it is anti-rational.

Or, again, suppose Richard Dawkins were to logically prove (stop that! we're having a serious discussion here) that all “theistic” religions and claims are false; and not merely that they all are false, but that not a one of them *can* be true. For, in logical and theoretical principle, such a proof is possible (**). And, suppose that I and many other “theists” were to respond: “Well, sure. BUT, until you prove that the particular extraneous assertions and/or propositions that I have decided to assert in addition to “mere theism” cannot defeat your argument against “mere theism”, then you haven’t proven squat.

Would parbouj, or any other ‘naturalist’, accept that line of argument/response as being logically and rationally valid? You know they wouldn’t, for it isn’t: such an argument is not merely illogical, it is anti-logical; it is not merely irrational, it is anti-rational.

Yet, here parbouj is, as many ‘naturalists’ do, making THAT VERY ARGUMENT with respect to the logical disproof of ‘naturalism’. As I said: no matter where you go, most of the ‘naturalists’ you encounter are going to be illogical (and irrational) or intellectually dishonest, or both. Parbouj is both.

Parbouj might as well claim that that rusted out old Pinto chassis, the one that has been moldering away in the junkyard for these past twenty years, can be transformed into a sparkling, brand-spanking new Lamborghini, if only we fuddy-duddies will allow that the bells and whistles and shiny-sparkly things he has duct-taped onto it have so transformed it.

======= [continued] ==========
(*) and (**) Christianity in particular, and “mere theism” in general, can, as a matter of logical principle, be shown to be false (***). For example, if one were to show that there is no God, then Christianity in particular, and “mere theism” in general, would be shown to be false. On the other hand, if one were to show that there never lived a man named Jesus of Nazareth, called ‘The Christ’, then Christianity would be shown false, but “mere theism” would be untouched by one’s proof. And again, if one were to show that while there had lived a man named Jesus of Nazareth, later called ‘The Christ’, he was never crucified, and certainly was never raised from the dead, then Christianity would be shown false, but “mere theism” would be untouched by one’s proof.


(***) Though, as it turns out, and much to both the chagrin and childish tantrums of ‘naturalists’ like parbouj, it is ‘naturalism’ itself that has been shown to be false.

BenYachov said...

>Ben my comment was right on target, and I appreciate you mentioning it here.

Get over yourself it was stupid. What are you an undergrad?

BenYachov said...

>Can you discuss anything without just linking to your High Priest Feser?

I'm lazy by nature and as a matter of practicality why should I reinvent the wheel?

The question is can you offer any argument at all? If Feser & Rosenberg are such flunkies in you grand estimation then can't you offer any intelligent rebuttal to what they have said other then naysaying and name calling?

Let's see some substance.

I read Rosenberg's response to Feser's review of his book on Luke's blog. He was not pleased.

Also here I offered a challenge in my second to last post. What is the answer? How do I know those definitions Tony & Beingitself cling too are true?

>I have noticed a lot of Christians on this blog like to think they have refuted Naturalism when they attack a particular naturalist.

So are you claiming Naturalists have nothing in common? Then the term has no meaning.

I agree refuting a particular form of naturalism doesn't refute naturalism in general. I would never claim otherwise. But that doesn't prove Naturalism doesn't have core universal principle that unite the whole enterprise that can be critiqued or refuted.

Like for example all Theists believe in a participatory God even if specific forms of Theism differ greatly(Classic vs Personalist etc).

I'm surprised someone who claims to be a Platonist doesn't seem to have a concept of Universals & takes an obvious nominalist approach to the situation.

So what is you school of naturalism son & does it have any members other than you?

BenYachov said...

I have been reading eric steinhart essay on Platonic Atheism.

Fascinating sort of like a reverse Tillich for Atheists.

Tillich was a Theist who said "God does not exist" this Steinhart character is an Atheist who effectively says something like the Classic Theistic God exists.

Only he calls Him/It The Law which he calls divine. He has a healthy contempt for Theistic Personalist type "deities" which by defintion wins me over.

I hate to break it too you parbouj but if this is what you really believe you are radically closer to what Myself, Walter, Feser, OderbergRoss, Aristotle, Aquinas etc believe & you are radically different from what Tony or Beingitself disbelieve in.

In fact you have all the makings of a philosophical Deist other than an ad hoc insistence Law not either be identified with or originating in what the Classic Theists call God.

A Platonic Atheist? Sort of like a Dispensationalist Lutheran who denies Sola fide?

What about him is Lutheran and what about you is Atheist?

That is the question.

BenYachov said...

Quote from the essay "It is idolatrous to say that the Law is somehow incorporated into any god."

If one means a Theistic Personalist concept of "god" I 100% agree but then again it seems the author ad hoc exclusively defines "god" solely in Theistic Personalist therms.

Yet he calls the Law "Divine" and he is an Atheist who believes in the evil of Idolatry.

Here is the essay.

http://www.ericsteinhart.com/articles/platonicatheism.pdf

parbouj said...

Ben so many words to say nothing. When you stop citing others and write something of your own, Hell will be cool. I am not surprised you don't understand my perspective, you and Ilion both.

Tony Hoffman said...

Parabouj,

DNFTT. They are hungry for attention, and giving them some only makes them hungrier.

BenYachov said...

>Ben so many words to say nothing. When you stop citing others and write something of your own, Hell will be cool. I am not surprised you don't understand my perspective, you and Ilion both.

Sadly both you and Tony have chosen to channel Paps at this point.

Neither of you has any rational argument and both are adept at projection.

You called yourself a Platonic Atheist? I looked it up & cited one to get an idea of the topic.

Instead of explaining if you agree or disagree or partly agree you devolve into name calling & cowardliness and running away.

If you are both so intimidated by honest dialog why are you even here?

BenYachov said...

>When you stop citing others and write something of your own, Hell will be cool.

Makes about as much sense as a Young Earth Creationist telling an Evolutionist "When you stop citing biologists and write something of your own that will be etc".

Are you both really this thick or am I being played?

BeingItself said...

Hi Ben,

"Or is it more likely you still can't tell the difference between scientific argument vs philosophical analysis"

I think I can tell the difference.

As an example, Rosenberg says "All the processes in the universe, from atomic to bodily to mental, are purely physical processes involving fermions and bosons interacting with one another."

From a scientific perspective, what about dark energy and dark matter, which make up most of the universe? Rosenberg makes a big gaff here, it seems to me.

But from a philosophical perspective, how could Rosenberg ever "know" that physical processes exhaust reality? It seems to me that is something it would be reasonable to remain agnostic about.

Also, I think Rosenberg begs the question against teleology, but that's complicated.

Just starting the chapter on morality.

BenYachov said...

>From a scientific perspective, what about dark energy and dark matter, which make up most of the universe?

Or the point is they are merely all physical processes & it is not necessary he exhaustively list all existing physical processes involved to make his point.

It's a philosophical argument not an exposition on science.

Unless you want to claim there are none-physical (perhaps supernatural?) forces at work?

>But from a philosophical perspective, how could Rosenberg ever "know" that physical processes exhaust reality?

That is a question my kind asks your kind when you claim there is no supernatural. Good question! Feser asks it as well and so do I.

>I think I can tell the difference.

I think you have a way to go. But you answered me directly so I give you points for that.

Cheers.

BeingItself said...

"That is a question my kind asks your kind when you claim there is no supernatural."

I have never made such a claim. I would say that I have no reasons (so far) to believe in anything supernatural.

I would also say that many things which in the past were explained by appeal to supernatural forces (thunder, disease, etc.) are now readily explained naturally.

And that is a historical trend that ought to make the supernaturalist squirm a bit.

BenYachov said...

>I have never made such a claim.

Then you will never say to me "Use Science to Prove the existence of God"?
You will grant acknowledgment that when Richard Dawkins claims God is a scientific question(when in fact it is philosophical) he is full of shit?

Good to know if that is in fact what you truly mean(maybe it isn't).? We will get along famously then.

>And that is a historical trend that ought to make the supernaturalist squirm a bit.

Only if I hold a mechanistic philosophical definition of the supernatural and the natural.

But that view is wrong on every level to a classic philosopher & or Classic Theist.

Paley sucks! I will not defend his shitty so called "god". You need to fight Ilion if you wish to cast down that idol since I am not interested.

Cheers to you.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Some concepts of God certainly are open to scientific investigation. Dawkins makes that clear.

BenYachov said...

>Some concepts of God certainly are open to scientific investigation. Dawkins makes that clear.

Naturally but not mine. Some forms of materialism are compatible with some forms of materialism.

Dawkins has a one size fits all approach to his anti-religious fundamentalism which is tedious and I would reject if I became an Atheist tomorrow.

Cheers.

BenYachov said...

edit: sorry

"some forms of materialism are compatible with some forms of religion. Pantheism can be materialism with God being the emergent property intelligence of the universe."

BeingItself said...

Ben,

It seems to me you're attacking a straw man Richard Dawkins. Which is cute since you think he attacks a straw man God.

In my experience, the God you and Dawkins both don't believe in is the God most Christians do believe in.

BenYachov said...

>It seems to me you're attacking a straw man Richard Dawkins. Which is cute since you think he attacks a straw man God.

No I just want Gnu's to stop being Gnu's & be rational Atheists.

It's a start.


>In my experience, the God you and Dawkins both don't believe in is the God most Christians do believe in.

In my experience the theory of evolution most scientifically illiterate people believe in is one which says "Apes gave birth to humans" or "Ape changed into humans".

But the scientifically sophisticated know better. You are comparing the theologically and philosophically illiterate to the sophisticated view of theism.

Is that fair?

BenYachov said...

BeingItself

No rational person can make the case Dawkins is a competent Atheist then they can claim Kirk Cameron or Ray Comfort are such for Theism.

Quintin Smith is an intelligent competent Atheist. Rosenberg is better than Dawkins not so much Smith. Dawkins at best is a competent opponent of anti-Evolutionism and so called Scientific Creationism.

But that is all he is good for & by definition it's a limited market.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

I'm not sure what we are talking about. You're jumping all over the place.

"No rational person can make the case Dawkins is a competent Atheist"

ORLY? WTF is a "competent Atheist"?

You hate Dawkins. Fine. Who cares?

But he never said all God concepts are falsifiable by science. Your God concept is not falsifiable by science, you allege.

Fine. Move on.

BeingItself said...

And I hold no more respect for so-called sophisticated theology than I do for any other theology.

Astrology is bullshit. And so theology.

BenYachov said...

>ORLY? WTF is a "competent Atheist"?

Seriously? Why is this a question? Do you think because somebody is an Atheist their arguments are automatically rational or competent?

I certainly don't think that about Theists or Catholics and I am both.

If I called somebody a competent doctor that is mystery to you what I mean?

What's with the silly questions?

>You hate Dawkins. Fine. Who cares?

You hate religion QUOTE"And I hold no more respect for so-called sophisticated theology than I do for any other theology.

Astrology is bullshit. And so theology."END

This is Dawkins' one size fits all polemic. It's fundamentally irrational even if no type of God exists. It's just a dismissal like the religious fundie who says "Oh you think Monkeys' can turn into people" & about half as smart.

I don't see why this is a hard concept?

I certainly don't hate Dawkins indeed my money is on him if he goes up against a YEC. But that is all he is good for.

Reasoning, logic and rationality are learned virtues you don't automatically get them from denying gods.

>But he never said all God concepts are falsifiable by science.

No he blanket claims that the idea of God is subject to science and he never explicitly says that different concepts of God are not.
He makes no formal distinction between different views. He calls Francis Collins a "Creationist" and equates him with the late Jerry Falwell. Tis silly!

Dawkins (like you just did according to your own plain words) always equivocates between religion in general vs science.

He in no way makes distinctions.

I respect philosophically sophisticate forms of YEC taught by orthodox Jews vs the lame pablum one find over at ANSWERS IN GENESIS even thought I don't accept YEC.

I respect Hindu and Buddist philosophy even thought I reject it. It's too intellectually rich & sophisticated and insightful to totally dismiss.

Still you are reading Rosenberg who is a cut above Dawkins. So at least you are on the right track.

You need to learn philosophy and the impotence of philosophy. The Science alone nonsense of the Gnu's is a dead end.

Just my obviously correct unsolicited advice. Take it or leave it. Your call.

Cheers.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

That analogy sucks. A doctor performs certain functions. She could suture wounds skillfully or incompetently.

An atheist just does not believe there are any gods. What would it even mean to have an incompetent belief?

I know atheists who are atheists for bad reasons. They used an unreliable method or faulty reasoning to arrive at that position.

But they disbelieve in gods just as skillfully as Rosenberg.

Feser is a skillful believer in a god. But he is an incompetent philosopher.

I suppose I'm being pedantic.

Dawkins makes plenty of distinctions. He finds the vague deist not nearly as idiotic as the YECer.

parbouj said...

Thanks for being more honest Ilion and saying your argument aims at "naturalists" rather than "atheists", as you have previously stated. Since I am an atheist non-naturalist, I do not think mind is a material process, the argument doesn't apply to me.

I haven't seen anthing from Ilion or BenJackoff but anger at this view, the claim that it is "inconsistent." I think you should both read some Plato and learn what 'inconsistent' means. I could be wrong, but my view is consistent.

Until I see an argument I will chalk it up to insecurity on your part when faced with a view that your "argument" can't even try to touch.

Ben, I should admit, makes more of an attempt to engage than Ilion\Troy.

Ilíon said...

Parbouj: "Thanks for being more honest Ilion and saying your argument aims at "naturalists" rather than "atheists", as you have previously stated. Since I am an atheist non-naturalist, I do not think mind is a material process, the argument doesn't apply to me."

Translation: I, Parbouj, am even more incoherent than regular materialists.

Parbouj: "Thanks for being more honest Ilion and ..."

Thanks for continuing to be intellectually dishonest -- thanks for continuing to "misunderstand" what I say/write in clear terms.

Parbouj: "Thanks for being more honest Ilion and saying your argument aims at "naturalists" rather than "atheists", as you have previously stated. Since I am an atheist non-naturalist, I do not think mind is a material process, the argument doesn't apply to me."

It does apply to your incoherency just as it does to the materilaists, and I have explained why and how -- and, for that matter, if you had actually tried to understand the argument's synopsis to which I had linked, and if you were intellectually honest, you'd not by trying to play this foolish game.

===============
Parbouj: "Since I am an atheist non-naturalist, I do not think mind is a material process, the argument doesn't apply to me."

To explain, once again (obviously, not for Parbouj's sake, for he has no desire to know/admit the truth):

1) 'Mind', as Parbouj is here using the term, is a concept, it is an idea, it is an abstraction of actually or potentially existing minds -- there is no such thing as the concept 'mind' if there exists not at least one mind who entertains the idea of 'minds'.

2) Parbouj, in claiming to be an atheist, adamantly denies that the physically existing world -- and the minds who dwell in it -- is the intentional creation of a logically pre-existing mind.

3) Parbouj incoherently asserts that the logically insurmountable problem of explaining -- using only that which is physical as the full extent of one's explanatory resources -- how it comes to be that there are actual minds existing in the physical world can be resolved by duct-taping the concept of 'mind' onto the mindless physical world.

3a) Parbouj incoherently asserts that because there contingently exist minds "in the universe" who (sometimes) entertain the idea of 'minds', that therefore the problem of logically explaining the reality of minds existing in a physical/material world is no problem at all.

BenYachov said...

@Parbouj

>I haven't seen anthing from Ilion or BenJackoff but anger at this view,

BenJackoff? What are you 12?

@BeingItself
>That analogy sucks. A doctor performs certain functions. She could suture wounds skillfully or incompetently.

So why is it impossible for an Atheist to make bad arguments against religion?

>An atheist just does not believe there are any gods. What would it even mean to have an incompetent belief?

Don't be disingenuous it is clear I mean Dawkins makes some pretty incompetent arguments against religion & for Atheism. Why else would I compare him to Ray Conform or Kirk Cameron? Because they are lousy believers? I'm not competent to make that call but their arguments suck.

>I suppose I'm being pedantic.

Well I can't fault you for being honest here. That is the first step to not being a Gnu.

>Feser is a skillful believer in a god. But he is an incompetent philosopher.

The former can't logically be judged since it is subjective. So that is a poor argument. The later is just "so's your old man" because of your hero worship of Dawkins. I have said Dawkins is a competent Evolutionary scientist. But that is all he is. Feser is a very good philosopher. There are other who are better than him but I only know that because he pointed me to them. I do read books found in the bibliographies in the books I read. Feser is no execption.

parbouj said...

Ilion if you want to know how I see mind, you could ask me instead of pretending to know, and then writing a bunch of nonsense about what you think I think.

You are so far out of your league right now, so obviously know nothing about this topic (start with Frege), while showing such an undaunted confidence that you actually know something, that I worry you may literally (not figuratively) be schizophrenic or have some other type of brain disorder.

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