Sunday, November 27, 2011

This is Parsons' critique of Kreeft and Tacelli on hallucinations

It is online.

116 comments:

Chris W said...

Thanks, Victor! I looked at Parsons' page on the Infidels site but didn't realize it was part of 'Why I Am Not a Christian'.

Anonymous said...

There is still no scientific basis for Mass hallucination and Parsons article is not a pure defense of Hallucination since it clearly combines the "myth making" argument in order to undermine Kreeft and Tacelli's arguments.

JesusSaves said...

Yeah, who the hell could possibly believe that a bunch of superstitious, pre-scientific, mostly uneducated and illiterate peasants could possibly believe in talking donkeys, virgin births, a man living in a big fish, a man turning into a pillar of salt, etc, unless they had some absolutely astonishing evidence to PROVE it to them!!!

Yessiree, it's much more likely that the cosmic Creator of everything in existence 14 billion years ago suddenly decided to crawl up into some little girls vagina so that he could turn himself into a man for the purpose of allowing his own creation to hang him to a tree and savagely beat himself to death as some sort of a disgusting, vile, sadistic human sacrifice!!! To himself!!! Yeah!!!! That is SO!! much more believable!!

You Christians and your Stone Age lunacy!!! How quaint you are!!

Anonymous said...

JesusSaves,

Well, it's what the evidence suggests. Sorry that bothers you.

Chris W said...

Anon, so what if Parsons combines hallucination theory with "myth making"? Victor thinks that's best skeptical response to the resurrection.

A more interesting question: if there were group sightings of Jesus, and there is no scientific basis for shared hallucinations, is Resurrection the best explanation? Might there be something paranormal going on here? There have been other reports of multiple people simultaneously encountering a deceased friend or relative. Parapsychologists use such cases to argue that apparitions are veridical, very much like Christian apologists use the NT accounts of Jesus' appearances to groups to argue for Resurrection.

Might the encounters with Jesus be part of the wider phenomenon of contact with the dead? I don't see how this idea beggars beliefs but Resurrection doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Chris W,

You just got my point.

Hallucination is "better" in that it explains why the Apostles died for their beliefs vs dying for what they knew was a lie.

But there is still no science to back up Mass Hallucination.

Chris W said...

Anon,

I think your points are true but trivial. Let me see I've got you right. I see your points as:

1) A theory which postulates hallucinations is better than a theory of pure myth-making.

Reply: But a theory that postulates hallucinations plus the fruitful embellishing and multiplying of the initial reports of hallucinations is even better. I am unaware of anyone who proposes that hallucinations without any development can explain the NT appearance traditions.

2) There is no persuasive scientific (naturalistic?) theory of mass hallucinations.

Reply: Again, a proponent of hallucination need not believe the appearances of Jesus happened in groups, only that initial reports of individual appearances developed into stories of group appearances. I'm not sure I'd endorse that move, but one could make it. Still, if we accept the accounts of group appearances and if we rule out shared hallucinations, that doesn't quite get us to Resurrection. For all we know, reality might be stranger than we think, and the appearances of Jesus might be instances of the common phenomenon of encounters with the dead, whatever the reality behind that phenomenon is.

Anonymous said...

I'm not making a positive case for the resurrection. I'm merely telling why I don't find the hallucination theory credible in reference to group hallucinations.

Let someone else make the positive case I find it easier to be a killjoy critic then to do something productive.;-)

Be well.

parbouj said...

Why are skeptics so focused on hallicunations per se, rather than hallucinations mixed with memory distortion or retelling-bias or groupthink or....disjunction is needed, not conjunction.

It is funny seeing people defending the view that someone was resurrected from the dead by saying hallucinations are implausible. :) LMAO. You guys rock!

Come over to atheistic Platonism people, your resurrection story is just funny wrong. ;P

B. Prokop said...

I normally don't stoop to answer such trolls as "JesusSaves", but one thing he wrote demands a response. He characterized the New Testament writers as "superstitious, pre-scientific, mostly uneducated and illiterate peasants".

Well. Let's take these adjectives one at a time.

1) Superstitious: a charge not worth one nanosecond of my time (or of anyone else's). Since he's chosen to post unser a pseudonym, we have no idea who we're dealing with here, but I'll wager he would tag anyone not an out-and-out atheist as "superstitious". Yawn.

2) Pre-scientific: Interesting. the pseudonymous poster is apparently unaware that Aristotle pre-dates the New Testament by centuries, and that Natural Science was a well established discipline by the 1st Century A.D. (And please don't try to argue that the NT writers were unaware of Greek science. the Roman world was absolutely soaked in Greek thought by the time the NT was being written. And besides, other anti-Christian trolls will use the Greek influence on writers such as Luke, John, and Paul as a point against them. Well, you can't have it both ways. You can't claim they've been influenced by the Greeks when it comes to philosophy, but then deny the same when it comes to science!)

3) Uneducated: Wow! Please take an afternoon (that's all it takes) to read the Gospels objectively. Not as either "true" or "false", but as literary works. Then show me someone, anyone, in history capable of composing such brilliantly constructed prose, with unprecedented layers of meaning, capable of supporting two millenia of commentary by Western Civilization's most brilliant minds, without education.

(And if they did manage such a feat, that in itself would be a pretty good argument in favor of Divine Inspiration.)

4) Illiterate: Hmmm... then how did they manage to write the New Testament, being illiterate? Or are you arguing in favor of yet another miracle?

(Also, we see Jesus Himself reading from the Scroll of Isaiah in Luke, and writing with His finger on the ground in John. No illiteracy there!)

5) Peasants: None of the Twelve Apostles are identified as "peasants"; nor is Jesus Himself. Jesus was a tradesman (a carpenter). Peter and his brothers were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector (and therefore literate). At least three were members of highly sophisticated religious-political movements of the time (John, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot), and among the educated elite of the time (indeed, intellectuals). Others (Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew) were Hellenized Jews, and thus highly familiar with all things Greek (including science). But no peasants.

parbouj said...

Incidentally, that full article is pretty badass. It makes me even less of a Christian than I was.

Plus, nice job butressing one factor in the disjunct to explain why a small group of religious fanatics could come to believe their leader came back from the dead (seriously, folks, it doesn't take much creativity to think of some stories here!), or why their "sacred" texts if taken uncritically at face value might make you think they were onto something.

My mind just exploded with the ridiculousness of this little cult! :) lol folks have fun with your blood and body eating on Sundays. I'd pay money for a Youtube clip of Troy/Ilion drinking the wine just so I could make fun of him some more.

Walter said...

Here is a review of chapeter 7 of Maurice Casey's book: Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian’s Account of His Life and Teaching

visions-of-jesus-resurrection

It lays out a case for the resurrection as a visionary experience.

parbouj said...

Thanks Walter that is great. I think people insert themselves back in time, and don't realize how seriously 'visions' used to be taken.

When you dreamt of X happening, it was an omen! Don't marry her, don't go on that trip, etc..

Walter said...

Please take an afternoon (that's all it takes) to read the Gospels objectively. Not as either "true" or "false", but as literary works. Then show me someone, anyone, in history capable of composing such brilliantly constructed prose, with unprecedented layers of meaning, capable of supporting two millenia of commentary by Western Civilization's most brilliant minds, without education.

(And if they did manage such a feat, that in itself would be a pretty good argument in favor of Divine Inspiration.)


Muslims use that very argument to demonstrate the divine inspiration of the Quran.

Anonymous said...

>It lays out a case for the resurrection as a visionary experience.

Isn't "visionary experience" here just anohter way to say "hallucination"?

Hiero5ant said...

But there is still no science to back up Mass Hallucination.

Of course, there is no science to back up a resurrection. But there's no double standard or special pleading going on here, oh no.

I submit that they miraculously had a mass hallucination. And since this would be a smaller miracle than a resurrection -- since less of our knowledge of how brains work would have to be thrown out -- I submit that this is a better explanation of the "events" depicted in the NT.

Anonymous said...

That actually shoots the hallucination argument in the foot if there is no science to back it up.

It's no better then saying Aliens beamed Jesus up or beamed down Clarktech nanobots to rebuild him.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

Thank you for bringing up the Islam issue! I was actually thinking about that as I wrote my posting. However, I come (naturally) to a quite different conclusion than the Islamic take on the issue, which is that it proves that their story of the origins of the Koran is a fraud. The author of that book had to be educated and literate, both of which they declare Mohammad was not.

But nowhere in the NT does it claim ignorance or illiteracy for its writers. In fact, it makes the opposite case!

toddes said...

@ Hiero5ant,

"I submit that they miraculously had a mass hallucination."

And through whom was this miracle performed?

Chris W said...

Anon said: "Let someone else make the positive case I find it easier to be a killjoy critic then to do something productive.;-)"

Oh, I quite agree! So do 99% of Internet commentators, it seems.

Anonymous said...

>Oh, I quite agree! So do 99% of Internet commentators, it seems.

I know.:-)

Chris W said...

parbouj,

You said "Why are skeptics so focused on hallicunations per se, rather than hallucinations mixed with memory distortion or retelling-bias or groupthink or....disjunction is needed, not conjunction."

The way I see it, no smart skeptic would propose that hallucinations without some memory distortion, retelling-bias, or groupthink can explain the NT resurrection accounts. But we do need some kind of seed for the legend to grow out of. Distorted memories of what? Biased retelling of what? Groupthinking about what? Visions of Jesus, that's what.

parbouj said...

toddes misses the point...lol.

ChrisW I will have to think--memory distortion for one is a way to form a false memory...rather than outright hallucination, incorrect memory of a real event.

Little jewish punk teenagers lying to the Christians just to mess with them "We all saw him! [lol to each other]".

Etc.. When the contrast class is someone miraculously being raised from the dead, pretty much everything is more plausible.

Chris W said...

"Little jewish punk teenagers lying to the Christians just to mess with them "We all saw him! [lol to each other]"."

Heh. I think you may be onto something here.

toddes said...

@parbouj

"memory distortion for one is a way to form a false memory"

We're not discussing a single event but several, over the course of 40 days, to multiple individuals, at different locations, inviting them to touch him and his wounds, eating with them, walking with them, etc.

And, I got the point, I chose to ignore it and treat the statement as serious instead of snark. Both explanations would be miraculous given that there is no scientific evidence for either. The problem with the miraculous mass hallucination is that it requires an active party to perform the miracle.

toddes said...

Not sure where the last part of my previous post went...

So who do you propose is responsible for the miraculous mass hallucination and are you or Hiero5ant willing to defend the proposition? If not, then leave the snark (and the overuse of LOL) where it belongs.

parbouj said...

Toddes it seems you haven't read the stuff Victor linked to you are repeating what they crushed.

Chris W said...

toddes,

You wrote: "So who do you propose is responsible for the miraculous mass hallucination..."

Why ask "who" and not "what"? An impersonal paranormal force could have caused mass "hallucinations" of Jesus. Some psychical researchers have hypothesized that at the time of or shortly after death, some individuals with telepathic abilities/properties are able to send out messages (intentionally or not) to the living in the form of visual apparitions. Perhaps Jesus had a high concentration of this power.

But that's silly, right? I think that's the point. Why is a miraculous resurrection by God more plausible than a
miraculous mass hallucination (or, as I have constructed it, paranormal post-mortem communication)?

As to your point about 40 days of multiple experiences, see the Parsons article linked to above.

Anonymous said...

But once you concede the existence of miracles and the supernatural that grants the lion's share of the argument to the pro-resurrection side and it weakens the naturalistic skeptic view point.

So it's as weak a skeptical response as postulating the non-Scientifically verified claims of group or mass hallucinations.

Chris W said...

Anon:

I wouldn't concede (or deny) "the existence of miracles and the supernatural" but I would say that if we open up the supernatural bag of explanations, Resurrection isn't the obvious one to go with. A "skeptic" could say something like this: 1) A miraculous mass vision via paranormal forces
is as plausible as a miraculous Resurrection via the ancient near-eastern deity YHWH. 2) But a miraculous mass vision via paranormal forces is ridiculous. 3) So, a miraculous Resurrection via the near-eastern deity YHWH is also ridiculous.

And who cares if a such a theory "weakens the naturalistic skeptic view point"? There are other options than the boring question-begging village skepticism so popular these days.

One more thing: how is Resurrection not "non-Scientifically verified"?

Anonymous said...

>One more thing: how is Resurrection not "non-Scientifically verified"?

I never said it was. I'm the killjoy critic here remember?

How do you scientifically prove or disprove George Washington crossed the Delaware?

I am subjecting the skepticism here to skeptical analysis.

You can do cognitive science and there is no cognitive science to back up mass or group hallucinations.

>if we open up the supernatural bag of explanations, Resurrection isn't the obvious one to go with.

Rather it is no longer possible to argue a resurrection is impossible.

Sorry I can't see how it doesn't grant the lion's share of the argument to the Christian and there is no reason to argue for competing supernatural explanations without sufficient reason to do so.

Make a philosophical case for or against the existence of miracles, God etc...then look at the evidence for or against a resurrection.

Chris W said...

All right, I am happy to be a killjoy critic alongside you, Anon. I think I've gotten off the topic of the original post anyway.

Anonymous said...

http://www.garyhabermas.com/articles/crj_explainingaway/crj_explainingaway.htm#ch2

Why would Paul Hallucinate Jesus?

He wasn't a believer at first thus felt no guilt.

Walter said...

Why would Paul Hallucinate Jesus?

He wasn't a believer at first thus felt no guilt.


How can we possibly know what Paul felt? He claimed to have persecuted Christians before his change of heart. Maybe some of the things he did bothered him? Maybe he had a medical condition that made him prone to "visions?" All any of can do is speculate.

Anonymous said...

He also said he thought what he did was righteous and served God & didn't think otherwise till his vision.

CQC said...

"A "skeptic" could say something like this: 1) A miraculous mass vision via paranormal forces
is as plausible as a miraculous Resurrection via the ancient near-eastern deity YHWH. 2) But a miraculous mass vision via paranormal forces is ridiculous. 3) So, a miraculous Resurrection via the near-eastern deity YHWH is also ridiculous."

There's a grand disjunct between the two propositions. There's considerable evidence (ranging from metaphysical demonstration, philosophical argument, and even certain reasonable inferences derived from science) in favor of theism generally that one can bring to the resurrection specifically. There's nothing nearly comparable for "miraculous mass vision" in and of itself.

Also, I notice this going on in the thread. Mass hallucination is offered as a possibility for explaining resurrection appearances, Christians point out there's no scientific evidence for mass hallucinations, and the counter-reply is "there's no scientific evidence for resurrections either! So there!" It's as if it's immediately forgotten that the Christian isn't committed to the idea that scientific explanations are the only valid ones, while typical naturalists are. Again, the cases are disjointed. It's like pointing out a naturalist is appealing to a miracle to explain something, and the naturalist replying "Well you non-naturalists explain things via miracles too!" The naturalist in that case is making a severe mistake in reasoning.

CQC said...

And I have to say, Parson's entry (I've only read the parts disputing Christ's resurrection) strikes me as very lacking. It's mostly one long string of "I can imagine maybe something different happened" claims, backed up with selective quotes from sympathetic authors and fluff like "in all likelihood".

And I'd like to point out that "naturalistic explanations" cover quite a lot of ground. Alien encounters are naturalistic. The phantom time hypothesis is naturalistic. 9/11 conspiracy theories are naturalistic. If the goal is to just come up with any naturalistic explanation, that's easy. "We live in a simulation. The person at the keyboard orchestrated this." Game, set, match.

Walter said...

For me the question is: How strong is the evidence? Is the evidence for supernatural resurrection so strong that I am being irrational in doubting it? I don't think so. We are all different in that evidence that will convince one person of an improbable event won't begin to move another. We all set the bar at different heights. I would not care so much if many Christians would quit equating skepticism with some kind of moral failure.

CQC said...

Walter,

"For me the question is: How strong is the evidence? Is the evidence for supernatural resurrection so strong that I am being irrational in doubting it? I don't think so."

Who makes that claim? Even the strongest apologists I'm aware of would insist either that Christianity is rational and reasonable, or that if one is compelled to accept the resurrection intellectually it would be the result of accepting a variety of arguments (even a cumulative case) for theism generally, and so on.

I don't doubt someone out there makes the claim, I just think it's fringe. I think even the surliest Christians will be quicker to write off a person's lack of acceptance of the resurrection as a spiritual rather than an intellectual failing of rationality. And they almost always will believe there's a spiritual rather than purely intellectual component to one accepting Christ.

"We are all different in that evidence that will convince one person of an improbable event won't begin to move another. We all set the bar at different heights."

This sounds like Victor's take. I largely agree.

"I would not care so much if many Christians would quit equating skepticism with some kind of moral failure."

A claim of moral failure is different from an irrationality charge. I think even among the most furious of Christians the irrationality charge is rare with regards to rejecting the resurrection. Religious skeptics, however, throw out both moral and rationality failure charges left and right against... pretty much anyone they disagree with. Even fellow atheists.

I could agree, on the subject of the resurrection, that attacks on rationality get nowhere, and attacks on moral failing are just inappropriate in the context of a discussion. But that condemns modern popular skepticism a lot more than modern popular religion.

Chris W said...

CQC,

A couple things about this supposed grand disjunct. It seems to me you think there is independent evidence for theism and not for paranormal forces that could cause mass visions, and this is reason to prefer Resurrection over vision. Well, obviously, many people who disbelieve in the Resurrection of Jesus also find the evidence for theism lacking, so much so that it would be on the level as the evidence for paranormal acitivity. Even if one thought the evidence for theism was good, we're a long way from the God of Israel that would have raised Jesus. Even then, the God of Isreal could have no interest in raising Jesus, as Jews and Muslims claim. I'm not aware of any arguments from natural theology that argue specifically for the Christian God.

I should also point out that some people think we have quite good evidence for paranormal acitivity that causes visions of the dead. See the last 100 years of literature from psyhcical researchers or at least check out the Wikipedia page for apparitional experience. There are several supernatural but nontheistic hypotheses to explain how visions of the dead might occur.

So if one thinks the evidence for theism is poor, I don't see how paranormal mass visions beggars belief but Resurrection by the Christian God doesn't. Same thing with aliens, simulation, etc. No reason to prefer one over the other; they're all weird. If one thinks the evidence for theism is poor, Resurrection is in the same kooky bag.

Chris W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CQC said...

Chris,

"It seems to me you think there is independent evidence for theism and not for paranormal forces that could cause mass visions, and this is reason to prefer Resurrection over vision."

I did not say that at all. I said there's a grand difference between the diversity, amount and strength of evidence and arguments for theism and for vague 'paranormal (But impersonal!) forces that could cause mass visions'. Not that there was no evidence whatsoever.

"I'm not aware of any arguments from natural theology that argue specifically for the Christian God. "

Of course not, given the scope of natural theology. But that's not what's needed here to highlight the disjunction between a theistic explanation and an appeal to 'impersonal paranormal causes of mass delusion'. Theism has numerous powerful philosophical arguments (disagree with this, but there are still philosophical arguments), a diversity of empirical arguments, and more. Your opposing theory basically boils down to a very narrow interpretation of limited empirical data. That's about the only reason to consider it, close to "well, it's logically possible".

"So if one thinks the evidence for theism is poor,"

Yes, if a person is a committed naturalist, materialist and/or atheist from the outset, they will evaluate the evidence differently. But there's still a grand difference between the theistic explanation and the 'mass supernatural but non-personal vision' explanation. Especially once it's qualified to 'impersonal mass vision'.

"However I must say it seems good amount of "skepticism" these days is motivated by the desire not to be bossed around by traditional Christian ethics, specifically, sexual ethics."

That reply, and maybe it was intentional, concedes the very claim Walter wanted to argue against.

Chris W said...

About that last comment: I know it went a bit against what Walter said and I meant it to. I deleted it because it was off topic and I have no objective evidence to back it up.

Chris W said...

CQC,

You wrote: "Yes, if a person is a committed naturalist, materialist and/or atheist from the outset, they will evaluate the evidence differently. But there's still a grand difference between the theistic explanation and the 'mass supernatural but non-personal vision' explanation. Especially once it's qualified to 'impersonal mass vision'."

Are you saying that for someone who thinks the evidence for theism is weak, there still is a relevant "grand difference" between the theistic explanation and the paranormal? If so, what is it?

CQC said...

Chris,

"Are you saying that for someone who thinks the evidence for theism is weak, there still is a relevant "grand difference" between the theistic explanation and the paranormal? If so, what is it?"

What I'm comparing is the evidence for theism broadly and the evidence for "paranormal (supernatural?) mass vision that was impersonal in origin". Tacking on "for someone who thinks the evidence for theism is weak" doesn't help much here, because that makes it sound like I'm saying "all people who reject theism still think the one explanation has more going for it than the other". I'm not going to speak so broadly, since it's like saying "all atheists reject intelligent design as false". That's a strong statement, and it just requires one person going against the grain to refute.

CQC said...

Chris,

"Are you saying that for someone who thinks the evidence for theism is weak, there still is a relevant "grand difference" between the theistic explanation and the paranormal? If so, what is it?"

What I'm comparing is the evidence for theism broadly and the evidence for "paranormal (supernatural?) mass vision that was impersonal in origin". Tacking on "for someone who thinks the evidence for theism is weak" doesn't help much here, because that makes it sound like I'm saying "all people who reject theism still think the one explanation has more going for it than the other". I'm not going to speak so broadly, since it's like saying "all atheists reject intelligent design as false". That's a strong statement, and it just requires one person going against the grain to refute.

CQC said...

Blogger lied to me and said the other one didn't post. Oh well!

Papalinton said...

Bob
"He [jesussaves] characterized the New Testament writers as "superstitious, pre-scientific, mostly uneducated and illiterate peasants".
Well. Let's take these adjectives one at a time."

PapaL: Yes Bob, let's look at them.

From # 1. "Since he's chosen to post unser a pseudonym, we have no idea who we're dealing with here, but I'll wager he would tag anyone not an out-and-out atheist as "superstitious". Yawn."

PapaL response: Pseudonyms, hmmmmm! Tell me, who wrote the four gospels and half the Pauline epistles? And I too would tag anyone who invests all their trust into so many pseudonymous writings as superstitious.

From #2. ".... and that Natural Science was a well established discipline by the 1st Century A.D."

PapaL response: No. There was no Natural Science as we know it today. If anything Pliny the Elder [23-79CE], a non-christian, can be considered the father of Natural Science when he wrote the 37 volume “Historia Naturalis” (Natural History). Apart from Pliny the Elder's great contribution, which remained a force in all things scientific for centuries to follow, for the most part the closest natural science came to be understood as such was called Religion [or Theology], our first attempt at explaining humanity's relationship within the environment, the world, the universe.


From point #3. " Uneducated'

PapaL response: Uneducated in terms of those who wrote the work and were able to read them [about 1% of the population], definitely no. In terms of understanding the distinction between fact and fantasy, between natural and supernatural, between superstition, unfounded belief, credulity, fallacy, delusion, illusion, magic, and sorcery on the one hand and, fact, reality, truth, sensibility, realism on the other, then definitely yes. Indeed all these states of emotion and conception were indistinguishable in the perceived world of that era, within both the learned and the illiterate populace.

And because we now clearly understand those differences today and can discriminate the distinctions [well many of us], that is why christians eagerly retroject notions of literary devices, such as metaphor, allegory, analogy, and symbolism to writings of the bible that which were once sworn factual and evidential by those who wrote them, that now would seem utterly ridiculous, such as talking snakes, burning bushes or walking on water, or trinitarianism, or feeding 5,000 [or 4,000?] with a couple loaves and fish.
For those who wrote the stories and those who listened, these stories were literally fact, truth. Today these accounts are supped on as if at a post-modernist eclectic smorgasbord [pardon the parody], a little bit of this a little bit of that, a pinch of other, according to one's personal fondness and individual proclivities.

Incidentally, if one read the gospels 'objectively', one would become an atheist. Equally that atheist would then appreciate the writings for the literary wonders that they are, BUT, without the superstitious nonsense that theists invoke through words like inerrant, god-inspired, 'god-breathed', all of which are literary devices themselves about a purely human and earthly effort.

From Point #4. "Illiterate"

PapaL response: Ditto as for #3

[cont]

Papalinton said...

Cont.

From Point #5. "peasants" "Jesus was a tradesman (a carpenter). Peter and his brothers were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector (and therefore literate). At least three were members of highly sophisticated religious-political movements of the time (John, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot), and among the educated elite of the time (indeed, intellectuals). Others (Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew) were Hellenized Jews, and thus highly familiar with all things Greek (including science). "

PapaL response: For all their ascribed literateness, sophisticated religious-political acumen, intellectualism, and those highly familiar with all things Greek, how is it there is not one account, not one, on any aspect of these sophisticates purported relationships with jesus. Their time with him, we are told was so cathartic, so transcendental, so life-changing, so paradigmatic, that not one of them were driven by any existential need or desire to get any of the the details down of this seminal period in the history of the world. If the disciples were so literate and sophisticated and politically aware, there seems to be not one shred of evidence, not one scintilla of behaviour of the mannerism, the training, the skills, or any level of intellection that one would normally characterize or associate with such people in not seeing the absolute necessity to record their accounts for posterity, not one shred. Indeed all there is is a giant black hole.

These people should have been writing furiously in spreading the gospel, if not by themselves then at least engage scribes who could. One smells a christian revisionist remake of history on the disciples.

Because of their ignorance in understanding the import of their role in history, one can only assume that they were peasants, certainly in thinking and in action [non-action, that is].

:)

Anonymous said...

"Incidentally, if one read the gospels 'objectively', one would become an atheist."

Actually, if one read the gospels objectively, one would become a Christian. See how easy it is to make bald assertions?

And do you not understand that a person can reject Christianity and still be a theist?

Of course you don't. Look at you, trying to defend JesusSaves even though even most atheists regard him as an embarrassment. But he's on Team Atheist, so that means he has to be right and correct and defended to PapaL.

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

Anon
"Actually, if one read the gospels objectively, one would become a Christian. See how easy it is to make bald assertions?"

Not at all correct, Anon. You see, christian faithheads, those 'sophisticated' [lol] ones, have drummed into western civilization that the scriptures must and can only be 'interpreted' to get their 'full meaning', whatever that means in the christian lexicon. And christians have been interpreting and re-interpreting scripture for over two thousand years with the only emerging lesson emanating from the practice, that the 'right and full meaning' of scripture happened to coincide with what you always thought right along.

Christians do not become believers because of reason and rationality. They are either inculcated/indoctrinated from an early age, or for the weaker ones, must 'feeeeeel' the inner power [or as people generally describe and know it today, to swoon or hallucinate]. In other words a good shot of self-induced serotonin and endorphin in one's own brain should do the trick.

:0)

B. Prokop said...

"How is it there is not one account, not one, on any aspect of these sophisticates purported relationships with Jesus?"

Well, Papalinton, you already know how I am going to respond to that howler. We have Matthew, which I firmly and seriously believe was written by the Apostle and eyewitness Matthew. We have Mark, which was written by the unnamed eyewitness in Mark 14:51-52, subsequently identified in 1 Peter 5:13. We have John, written by the Apostle and eyewitness John. (We also have three of his letters.) We have James, written by the Apostle and eyewitness James. We have 1 Peter, written by the Apostle and eyewitness Peter. (2 Peter appears to be an edited compilation of his thoughts.) We have Jude, written by the Apostle and eyewitness Jude. And we also have Luke, who although not himself an eyewitness, clearly extensively interviewed those who were, to include (most especially) the Mother of Jesus, Mary. And Paul, who also was not an eyewitness, had years-long relationships and conversations with those who were (see numerous passages in Acts and in his letters, referring to this.)

I know in advance you do not accept any of this, but at least 'fess up that your skepticism about their authorship is based on "evidence" that is itself not "eyewitness testimony" (i.e., the scholars claiming they were written by somebody else did not themselves see other, unnamed persons writing them.) The grounds I have for maintaining these works were indeed written by their namesakes is at least as good as what you have for maintaining the opposite.

Your statement is pure, bald, personal opinion, based solely on what you want to be true. My own beliefs about the NT's Apostolic origin are likewise "unprovable", but are totally consistent with internal evidences within each work.

B. Prokop said...

"Christians do not become believers because of reason and rationality."

Absolutely true in most cases, but completely irrelevant. You have proceeded from this statement to another that does not follow under any conceivable rules of logic, which is "What Christians believe is therefore contrary to reason and rationality." But how does one get from one statement to the other without just assuming all sorts of unproven, unspoken premises? It can't be done, and you know this!

You need to accept the fact that Christians may believe a whole basket of things that we may not be able to prove to your satisfaction, but are nevertheless totally consistent with reason.

B. Prokop said...

(I'm not quoting you in the 2nd paragraph above, but summarizing what I believe is a faithful representation of what you have repeatedly expressed at length.)

Anonymous said...

The fact that Papalinton actually defends someone as execrable as "JesusSaves," formerly known as "TruthOverFaith," ought to tell you guys everything you need to know about him.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

How do you know the two are the same?

Anonymous said...

Papa = "JesusSaves" = TruthOverFaith" = parbouj

Anonymous said...

Are you just saying that they're the same person, or do you have evidence?

Or do you just mean that they all believe the same things?

BenYachov said...

parbouj can't be Paps.

He is a self-described Platonic Atheist and he read Friege. Thus he reads, loves & knows some philosophy.

Paps hates philosophy, dismisses it and equates it with Theology. Paps regurgitates the low brow reductionist materialism, scientism/positivism Philosophy is Dead meme of Dawkins & his ilk.

parbouj non-belief seems a tad bit more sophisticated.

Paps is just a Village Atheist nothing more.

parbouj is a jerk sometimes but so am I so there you go.

Anonymous said...

"Are you just saying that they're the same person, or do you have evidence?

Or do you just mean that they all believe the same things?"


The reason I say that "TruthOverFaith" and "JesusSaves" refer to the same person is because they have posted the same bilge verbatim on multiple threads of multiple blogs. That's all.

Anonymous said...

Proof enough for me!

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

I realize it must be the middle of the night down under, but when you wake up tomorrow, I'd like to know whether you've even read Victor's book, Lewis's Dangerous Idea, upon which this website is based. Your comment, "Christians do not become believers because of reason and rationality", makes me think you haven't.

Victor's premise, channeling C.S. Lewis, is that whatever confidence we can have in reason and rationality is predicated and dependent upon belief in the supernatural. To use an American baseball analogy, it appears that you're attempting to round home plate without having first touched second base.

Papalinton said...

Bob
"Well, Papalinton, you already know how I am going to respond to that howler. We have Matthew, which I firmly and seriously believe was written by the Apostle and eyewitness Matthew. We have Mark, which was written by the unnamed eyewitness in Mark 14:51-52, subsequently identified in 1 Peter 5:13. We have John, written by the Apostle and eyewitness John. (We also have three of his letters.) We have James, written by the Apostle and eyewitness James. We have 1 Peter, written by the Apostle and eyewitness Peter. ....."

I am surprised you have little understanding of the difference between scholarship and apologetics. You statement above is singularly drawn from apologetics without a shred of historical evidence. The only glue that holds the whole christian artifice together is that of time-worn convention. It is only ancient tradition that attributes the gospel to John the Apostle. In consensus of all biblical scholarship it is fair to surmise that the gospels and most of the writings in the NT are indeed anonymous. [To attribute authorship with any element of certainty is, In common parlance, wishlisting with eyes tightly closed and fingers crossed, and can only be affirmed through 'revelation' [sic].

The only author we know for certain in the NT was Paul, and half of those attributed to him have been proven to be without factual foundation. And interestingly Paul was a person who never ever knew or met a jesus personally, and from his writings, experienced an epileptic fit through which he conjured [dreamed, hallucinated] a jesus, but ironically it was a jesus that never ever physically walked the earth.

But he must have been a leaned man in the sense that he had the good sense to write down or have someone write down his experiences, BUT he knew nothing of an earthly jesus. This is the sort of manner, character, scholarship and intellect that is so grossly missing by the so-called sophisticated, intellectual, well-versed and literate disciples, whom you would have us believe hung on every word of a jesus. Nothing, nada, zilch, nein of the apologetical account in your statement above has shone any glimmer in advancing the evidential cause for any basis of fact for the christian claim. It shares the exact same capacity for veracity and truth, with both Islam and Judaism, akin to a sieve holding water.

Bob, it is without doubt the following is the explanation for your stance:

"Compartmentalization"
1998

Why are so many seemingly intelligent, rational people caught in the grip of the irrational beliefs of religion? Law, engineering, chemistry, mathematics... fields that require a great deal of thinking, seem to be no guarantee of rational thinking.
The answer to this question has little to do with intelligence. It has far more to do with emotions than I.Q. It is possible that a person can scrutinize facts for a living, perform complicated equations, think critically about complex issues, and yet when it comes to the subject of religion, the skeptical powers of scrutiny are reigned in, steered clear, and are robbed of their ability to perform. Claims of religion are considered "hands-off", and are placed safely behind a wall of faith, hidden in some part of the brain into which scrutiny cannot tread. This process is called Compartmentalization-- sectioning off parts of the intellect so that certain subjects, like religion, can be protected from rational, critical thinking.

cont.

Papalinton said...

[Cont.]


Why is this? Why does someone with a sharp mind, capable of so much, allow themselves to believe things that they would disbelieve if spoken by someone of any other faith? Why would someone willfully deprive themselves of Reason?
All adults know that animals do not speak, that there is no such thing as magic, that people cannot turn into other things (like pillars of salt), that people cannot live for days in the bellies of big fish or in burning funaces, that it is not possible for "everyone" on earth to be irreparably wicked, that men cannot turn sticks of wood into living snakes, that there can be nothing virtuous about the murder of a child-- but all these things and more are in the so-called "Good Book": the holy bible.
People will gladly believe absurdities-- sticks into snakes, walking on water, talking snakes and donkeys, living in the belly of a whale for 3 days, living for several days in a burning furnace, causing the sun to stand still, turning water into wine, creating humans from dirt, a great flood covering the whole planet and all the animals of the world gathered by twos into a big boat... all absolutely absurd in the highest degree. Even more disturbingly, people will believe that which is patently immoral-- wars of extermination, the killing of children and defenseless women by the thousands, salvation by faith regardless of the atrocities committed, the use of human beings as slaves, the oppression of women, intolerance of other religions, human sacrifice, the cruelty of Armageddon, and a place called Hell-- a place of infinite torture, infinite revenge, for the vast majority of all humans that have ever been born... all of this and more, immoral as any on earth, and all within the pages of the holy bible.
Why should "deeply held beliefs" be shielded from rational scrutiny? In the words of Robert Green Ingersoll:
"I do not regard religious opinions...as exotics that have to be kept under glass, protected from the frosts of common sense or the tyrannous north wind of logic. Such plants are hardly worth preserving. They certainly ought to be hardy enough to stand the climate of free discussion, and if they cannot, the sooner they die the better."
So, why would anyone believe this ridiculous nonsense, this filthy trash? It is not because they are stupid. No adult person is so unintelligent as to believe that animals can speak human language. The root of Compartmentalization, I believe, is the fear of death, and the inability to conceive of their own non-existence. People are so afraid of dying, of leaving everything they know and love, that they are willing to believe a lie, a fairy-tale, in order to comfort themselves. So great is the desire to meet again those we love in some eternal heavenly afterlife, that we are willing to compartmentalize our brains, and forever cease to use critical thinking in some areas of life. It is a selfish reason, having nothing to do with the welfare of others. It is clear that compassion and charity can exist without religion.
Those who first constructed the Christian religion were at least clever enough to build in a self-protection against skeptical scrutiny: to doubt is to endanger your immortal soul. The phrase "Doubting Thomas" finds its source in Thomas the Apostle, and his doubt is never favorably spoken of. Uncritical, blind faith is commended and rewarded, rational thought and skepticism are not.
I would ask the believer to re-examine his or her beliefs, and ask themselves if they would believe the kinds of claims made in the bible if they read them in a book about Hinduism, or Native American folklore, or in the National Enquirer.

Cont. 2

Papalinton said...

Cont.3

"There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably, some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he does not dare face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not real, he becomes furious when they are disputed."
- Bertrand Russell, Human Society in Ethics and Politics


"Better the hard truth, than a comforting fable."
-Carl Sagan

[You might wish to read the remaining at http://freethought.mbdojo.com/compartmentalization.html]

;o)

BenYachov said...

Like I said unsophisticated village Atheist.

B. Prokop said...

I'm with you, Ben. All's I could say after reading that string of, well, I don't really know what to call it, but it certainly wasn't trying to make any sort of a case... anyway, I was reduced to "What th'?".

Papalinton, what time is it anyway there in the Antipodes? I think you're posting in your sleep! There is more than sufficient internal textual evidence of the NT's Apostolic authorship. After a lifetime career as an intelligence analyst, where I was regularly required to ascertain exactly where, when, and from whom a given document originated, I think I have some expertise in this matter. The organic, internal case for the various books of the NT being written by their namesakes is overwhelming. This so-called scholarly consensus you refer to is nothing more than revisionist, self-aggrandizing, please-grant-me-tenure, bullshit narcissism, of the sort so aptly skewered by C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce, Chapter Five. I've read volumes and volumes of the stuff, and believe me, I haven't "compartmentalized" it. I've thoughtfully evaluated it and found it wanting - ludicrously so.

The fact is that you don't believe because you don't want to believe. You ignorantly (or perhaps thoughtlessly) accuse Christians of embracing "comfortable myths (Russell) or fables (Sagan)", but you should know better than that. The Christian Faith is anything but comfortable. It is demanding. It compels one to face up to harsh realities, to acknowledge one's utter dependence on another, to admit to one's faults. It insists on not letting one shrink from the consequences (perhaps even eternal consequences) of one's thoughts, words, beliefs, actions, one's very being. It is a daily shock to complacency.

And your tiresome litany of Old Testament allegories, as though anyone you're addressing actually reads them in such an infantile literalist manner, just makes you sound (please excuse me, but I'm trying to be honest here) stupid. You may get some illusory comfort over defeating a ridiculous phantom strawman opponent, but you've struck far from the mark of the people you're actually debating.

B. Prokop said...

Oh, and by the way, Papalinton, kudos for quoting Russell and Sagan - two eloquent, intelligent skeptics who, despite being wrong, actually knew how to reason and argue - unlike the current crop of "New Atheists", who seem unable to argue their way out of a paper bag.

Walter said...

The organic, internal case for the various books of the NT being written by their namesakes is overwhelming. This so-called scholarly consensus you refer to is nothing more than revisionist, self-aggrandizing, please-grant-me-tenure, bullshit narcissism, of the sort so aptly skewered by C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce, Chapter Five. I've read volumes and volumes of the stuff, and believe me, I haven't "compartmentalized" it. I've thoughtfully evaluated it and found it wanting - ludicrously so.

What you are saying flies in the face of all modern critical scholarship, and I could not disagree with you more.

B. Prokop said...

Am I supposed to be impressed by "modern critical scholarship" to the point that I can't judge for myself?

All of these supposedly learned arguments against Apostolic authorship combined add up to nothing but thin gruel. Besides, the "scholars" have too much to gain by coming forth with an original theory that goes against convention, and nothing to expect (in the way of recognition and good reviews) by sticking with tradition and the obvious. Who's going to get a name for themselves in the academic world by coming out with "The New Testament was written by whom it says it was"?

Disagree all you want. I think the "consensus" is tainted.

Chris W said...

Bob, I'm interested in some of the so-called bullshit narcissist NT scholars whose work you found so ludicrous. Would that include John Meier? The late Raymond Brown? Even Luke Timothy Johnson would disagree with most if what you've said. I'd really like to know what you think I'd their work, since you say you've read volumes and volumes of NT scholarship.

B. Prokop said...

Chris,

I frankly can't recall the names of everything I've read. A lot of it was years ago, and I never bothered to keep any of the books after reading them so I can't look at their title pages.

I'll be perfectly honest with you. If a book isn't poetry or literature, I usually never even bother to read the author's name (and I certainly don't memorize it).

So it's entirely possible that I've read some of the authors you listed, but to tell the truth, their names don't ring a bell.

I'm sitting here thinking about the 10-12 books I've read on astronomical subjects within the past 4 months, and I swear that if you put a gun to my head, I wouldn't be able to tell you who wrote any of them. I'm reading two on the moon right now, and I haven't the faintest idea who the authors are. (The books are upstairs, and I'm typing in the dining room.)

parbouj said...

Bob they could now get tenure by establishing that the consensus modern critical views are wrong. At any rate, that's ad hominem doesn't really get at their evidence/arguments etc.. I imagine a majority of people that go into that field are believers, and drawn away from the older view only after struggling with the evidence (including evidence outside of the religious texts themselves, for obvious reasons).

B. Prokop said...

Sorry if it came across as ad hominem. It wasn't meant to be an argument (i.e., persuasive), but simply a characterization (that I happen to believe is true).

But really, an attentive reading of the New Testament (and I've been reading it continuously since about 1964, so do the math) almost compels one to recognize the eyewitness nature of these accounts. Again, maybe I'm simply stating how my own mind works rather than trying to convince anyone else, but I truly believe it would take a conscious act of will on my part to disregard the plain evidence in front of my nose to believe anything other than Apostolic authorship. To me, it seems scarcely credible that it even needs to be "proven" at all. It's like asking me to prove that the sun set a couple of hours ago. What else can I say, but "Look outside. It's dark!" That's how solid and (to be frank) obvious the case appears to me.

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

Bob

PapaL: "Bob, you're compartmentalizing religion."

Bob: " I've read volumes and volumes of the stuff, and believe me, I haven't "compartmentalized" it."

PapaL: "Bob, you're just in denial."

Bob: "No. I'm not!"


Bob, here's an interesting piece for you:

"Which is the True Religion of God?
Each person is born in a circumstance which is not of his own choosing. The religion of his family or the ideology of the state is thrust upon him from the very beginning of his existence in this world. By the time he reaches his teens, he is usually fully brain-washed into believing that the beliefs of his particular society are the correct beliefs that everyone should have. However, when some people mature and are exposed to other belief-systems, they begin to question the validity of their own beliefs. The seekers of truth often reach a point of confusion upon realizing that each and every religion, sect, ideology and philosophy claims to be the one and only correct way for man. Indeed they all encourage people to good. So, which one is right? They cannot all be right since each claims all others to be wrong. Then how does the seeker of truth choose the right way?
God gave us all minds and intellects to enable us to make this crucial decision. It is the most important decision in the life of a human being. Upon it depends his future. Consequently, each and every one of us must examine dispassionately the evidence presented and choose what appears to be right until further evidence arises.
Like every other religion or philosophy, each also claims to be the one and only true way to God. In this respect they are no different from other systems. This booklet intends to provide some evidence for the validity of that claim. However, it must always be kept in mind that one can only determine the true path by putting aside emotions and prejudices, which often blind us to reality. Then, and only then, will we be able to use our God-given intelligence and make a rational and correct decision.
There are several arguments which may be advanced to support our claim to be the true religion of God. The following are only three of the most obvious. The first argument is based on the Divine origin of the names of the religion and the comprehensiveness of its meaning. The second deals with the unique and uncomplicated teachings concerning the relationship between God, man, and creation. The third argument derives from the fact that Islam is universally attainable by all men at all times. These are the three basic components of what logic and reason dictate necessary for a religion to be considered the true religion of God. "

There is only one point in this full piece that would not capture your personal raison d'├ętre for christianity, Bob. [from http://all-quran.com/documents/reading_materials.php?entry_id=1275373587&title=why-islam-is-the-true-religion&comments=comments}

Papalinton said...

Wlater
You say to Bob: "What you are saying flies in the face of all modern critical scholarship, and I could not disagree with you more."

And recent history of biblical scholarship would support your observation in this stance Walter. As more and more academic bible scholars, coming to the discipline without an apologetical barrow to push, engage in the actual modern historical analysis and forensic investigation of the ancient writings, the old and comfortable apologetic paradigm, just as was the applecart, is seemingly being upset.

Bob's reactions to my comments about compartmentalizing, and his rejection of current critical scholarship, are understandable. The results do indeed come as a shock to the time-worn tradition of naive acceptance and credulous compliance to the faith of their childhood. Any such forensic review of scripture in earlier days would have resulted in dire personal existential consequences. Nowadays, this format of of fearless academically independent investigation is the singularly most important reason many biblical departments of quality universities have not gone under and remain viable. Religious Studies departments promulgating uncritical erudition such as Apologia have long gone, unless the institution is of the ilk of Bob Jones University, or Liberty university, both, and others of similar stripe that are but anachronisms to modern learning, what with a mandatory requirement to sign a statement of faith to the inerrancy of the bible [or some such similar words] as a condition of employment. One must seriously question the ethics of the institution and the ethical nature of the religion that demands the like.

Cheers

:o)

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

Walter

Sorry for the misspell of your name.
Mea culpa.

;o(

Papalinton said...

Bob
You say, "But really, an attentive reading of the New Testament (and I've been reading it continuously since about 1964, so do the math) almost compels one to recognize the eyewitness nature of these accounts. '

Therein lies the issue, forty-seven years of reading the NT [since 1964]. The issue that needs to be addressed is; does your continuous reading of the NT constitute 47 years of accumulative learning or 1 year's learning 47 times over?

The level of polish and experience of your responses seems to suggest they be the result of the latter. Not to draw too fine a distinction, Bob, this is not a failure on your part, but rather the structure of the institutionalized catholic perspective held. There has not been a singular momentous far-reaching, revelatory religious discovery, or paradigm shift of any significance, which either corroborates or substantiates christian theology to be advancing and improving humanity's knowledge and understanding of the environment, the world, the universe or our place in it, since 325CE. Since the middle ages however, and particularly the acceleration following the Enlightenment period, christianity has been trending towards maximal entropy. Much of what seemed to be within the natural purview of religion has now been superseded, and while the church only begrudgingly relinquishes previously-held territories, they must inevitably be forfeited, just as society wishes it. Morality and free will are two such domains currently the subject of challenge and continuing negotiation.

Cheers

:o)

B. Prokop said...

"There has not been a singular momentous far-reaching, revelatory religious discovery ... since 325CE."

At last we (almost) agree on something significant, Papalinton. (I threw in the qualifier, since I would date the last "discovery" to 33 AD.)

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

I believe you are alluding to the "outsider" argument by quoting an Islamic tract. That whole line of thought just doesn't pass muster. My next door neighbor in Arizona, where I spent my youth, grew up in Mussolini's Italy and fought for the Axis in WWII. My own father, meanwhile, served in the US Navy in the same war. By the logic of the "outsider" argument, neither of these men fought on the right side, because the only reason they might have done so would have been an accident of birth. But fighting for the Allies instead of the Axis was objectively the correct thing to do, no matter what one's nationality. So you see, just because one is fortunate enough to have been randomly born into one religion rather than another does not (by itself) have any bearing whatsoever on the truth or falsity of said religion. None. It is completely irrelevant.

B. Prokop said...

The 47+ years were definitely a cumulative experience. I see things in the text today that I never dreamed were there decades ago. Many passages that I just skimmed right over in the past are now charged with significance, as I gradually understand more and more of why they are there, and why they were worded in precisely that manner. More times than I can count, there would be some line, that I must have read 10,000 times without pausing, which suddenly leaps off the page, and I'm left wondering "How on Earth did I never notice that before?"

My recent studies in Latin have also enhanced my appreciation of the text. Reading the Gospels in a language other than one's native tongue forces the reader to pay attention to every last word and every grammatical construction, and tiny nuances stand out that were beforehand completely missed.

Life itself has also had its bearing. (In fact, more than anything else.) Experiencing war and poverty first-hand, devastating personal loss, raising a family, living in foreign countries, making terrible blunders, discovering things about myself that I'd rather not know: all have had their impact on what the Gospels have to tell me.

'Cause you see, Papalinton, what your posting betrays is a total misunderstanding of how the gospel works. It's not what I bring to the table that makes up the learning - it's what the Gospel brings to me. and yes, sometimes that means having the same lesson beaten into me 47 times with no discernible progress, and at other times one's whole life and perception can undergo a Sea Change in an instant, and nothing is ever the same again.

It can happen to you, too.

(By the way, Papalinton, I appreciate all your comments. We may disagree on nearly everything, but at least your error is genuine and appears to be well-intentioned, and not infantile and trollish like some others that post here.)

01010101 said...

"For as a dream comes with a multitude of cares, so a fool's speech with a
multitude of words." (Eccl.)

DI itself

Papalinton said...

Bob
"So you see, just because one is fortunate enough to have been randomly born into one religion rather than another does not (by itself) have any bearing whatsoever on the truth or falsity of said religion. None. It is completely irrelevant."

The point is, Bob, both are indistinguishable. both use the exact same words to describe their philosophy.

And you are right. Into which religion one may have been born does not testify to its truth or falsity, as both religions are completely irrelevant.

B. Prokop said...

Ha, Ha!

No, it's the birth that's irrelevant! (As in my WWII analogy, unless you're trying to argue that there was no significant difference between the Axis and the Allies.)

Anonymous said...

"(By the way, Papalinton, I appreciate all your comments. We may disagree on nearly everything, but at least your error is genuine and appears to be well-intentioned, and not infantile and trollish like some others that post here.)"

Uhhhhh. Papalinton is infantile and trollish 99% of the time. You yourself have seen it. Nice of you to try and be good-natured about it, but let's not lie.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah. And modern critical scholarship is in shambles: The Q document. The documentary hypothesis. The fallout from the Jesus seminar. Way too many modern shibboleths dashed, and in short time too. It gets even more chaotic if you go back a century rather than a few decades.

Bob's right that the evidence is entirely consistent with apostolic authorship. And Paps is just doing what teachers do best: bloviating and bluffing about what he doesn't understand, but wants to pretend to be well-versed in.

Walter said...

Bob's right that the evidence is entirely consistent with apostolic authorship

I consider that to be a subjective opinion. I can see a fairly decent case made for Luke-Acts actually being written by a traveling companion of Paul's due to the we-passages in Acts, but the traditional views on authorship of Matthew, Mark, and John are based on pretty flimsy at best.

Walter said...

Darn it!

Previous comment was meant to say "pretty flimsy evidence at best."

B. Prokop said...

If you consider the case for Apostolic authorship to be "flimsy", you'll have to admit (if you're honest) that the opposite case is no less so. Mostly the arguments boil down to (often unspoken) unprovable premises that begin "is it not reasonable to assume...?", or else they're uber-reliant on the "absence of evidence", which as we all know, is not evidence of absence.

For instance, much is often made of the fact that "the disciple Jesus loved" is never identified by name in John. But this is easily explained by an understandable desire by the writer to keep the focus of his narrative on Jesus and away from himself; a way of showing humility.

Or, one argument for late dating that always causes me to smile is the one that says "since the Destruction of the Temple is alluded to in all four Gospels, then they have to have been written subsequent to that event (i.e., post-70 AD). But surely that is begging the question, by assuming beforehand that Jesus could not have foreknowledge of an event. (After all, the Gospels do not describe the actual destruction, but merely record Jesus's prediction of such.) My own (admittedly equally intuitive) counter to that argument is that, were the Gospels indeed written post-70 AD, the destruction would have been central to the narrative, rather than merely obliquely referenced in passing. After all, Titus's siege of Jerusalem was the most traumatic, catastrophic event in Jewish history since the Babylonian captivity. It would be like writing a history of the Western Hemisphere and confining its European colonization to a footnote.

Walter said...

As you would say, Bob, we don't have a "slam dunk" either way, whether it comes to the dating or actual authorship of these texts. Since I don't base my life off of the opinions of these ancient writers, it is merely an intellectual curiosity to me. The previous anonymous poster commented on the state of NT scholarship being in shambles and to some extent I agree. What actual evidence we have from first-century Palestine is so thin we can connect the dots in all manner of creative ways; that's why everyone seems to find exactly the Jesus that they are looking for.

B. Prokop said...

Walter, I mostly agree with everything in your last posting except the final sentence. (Naturally, being a Christian), I believe that it is Jesus who finds us.

Selah.

Chris W said...

Modern critical scholarship is not in shambles, Anon. Take the synoptic scholarship that is abandoning the Q document. That's a good thing. It's progress. The new dominant theory emerging is that Mark was written first, Matthew used Mark, and Luke used both Mark and Matthew. In other words, the gospels are even less independent of each other than we thought.

So too with the demise of the Jesus Seminar. The Seminar's scholarship was revisionist and sensationalist, so a backlash against it is progress. But this backlash is not a return to a pre-critical age. For examples of the fruit of this turn, see Dale Allison's latest, Constructing Jesus, Maurice Casey's Jesus of Nazareth, and John Meier's continuing A Marginal Jew series. You will find that pre-critical ideas like apostolic authorship are not making a comeback.

Looking back a century shows even more progress. For example, many if the first books on the historical Jesus tried to discredit Christianity or make Jesus out to be a liberal Protestant. Today we have much less bias, much less anti-Christian agenda (again, especially with the demise of the Jesus Seminar).

I think there is confusion stemming from phrases like "modern critical scholarship" that Walter and I are using on this thread. It does not mean "scholarship trying to discredit the Bible", it just means good history and textual analysis. The latter is thriving, and the former is withering (except for when the media wants a juicy article or documentary about the Bible, of course. Then the kooks get to shine).

Chris W said...

I should add that modern critical scholarship has not, if I may evoke a popular blog that makes questionable use of the results of this scholarship, "debunked" the Resurrection or anything else in the Nicene Creed. It has, however, undercut certain tools of apologists and conservative theologians: apostolic authorship, eyewitness testimony, independence, the historical value of the Gospel of John, inerrancy, and so on.

B. Prokop said...

"You will find that pre-critical ideas like apostolic authorship are not making a comeback."

Uhh... Pope Benedict's recently-published two-volume Jesus of Nazareth is definitely on the side of Apostolic authorship. And even non-Catholics and persons hostile to Catholicism do not dispute Benedict's (Ratzinger's) scholarly acumen.

B. Prokop said...

He also comes down strong on the issues of "eyewitness testimony, independence, the historical value of the Gospel of John".

And if you doubt the "scholarly" nature of his work, just try reading some of it. Quite a bit of it is way over my head. (And I'm not at all afraid or embarrassed to admit that. I freely acknowledge that there are tons of people out there way smarter than I am. Pope Benedict is one of them.)

Chris W said...

Bob, I'll have to take a look at those books for myself, but the reviews of them by biblical scholars have not been altogether favorable. The pope is respected for his theological works, not his history. I have read a little of his theology (Introduction to Christianity and bits of other things) and that is where he excels.

Anonymous said...

So a biblical scholar is defined as one who rejects the idea that John wrote John?

No true Scotsmen fallacy.

Papalinton said...

Chris W
"The pope is respected for his theological works, not his history. "

Insightful comment and one that encapsulates the fuzzy boundary between history and theology. The pope is foremost a theologian and his foray into history is prescribed within the catholic perspective.

No doubt he is brilliant. No doubt he is intelligent. No doubt his words will resonate with those who have a similar perspective. But the catholic perspective is not the be-all and end-all of what happens in the world.

And it must remembered that he is the leader that protected the organised and systematized transfer of pedophile priests that their god-given right to freely abuse children. It must remembered that the various national and international and most telling investigations into catholic child abuse are as recent as 2011. It must also be remembered that Ratzinger is only protected from being served a writ by countries such as Ireland, Britain and the US and the international court of justice because of diplomatic immunity. These are simply reminders of the recent historical context from which the pope operates his infallibility.

As Bob notes: "Pope Benedict's recently-published two-volume Jesus of Nazareth is definitely on the side of Apostolic authorship. And even non-Catholics and persons hostile to Catholicism do not dispute Benedict's (Ratzinger's) scholarly acumen."


Cont.

Papalinton said...

[Cont.]

In response to Bob's view, they may not dispute his scholarly acumen but they do refute both his theology and history in this book. One such scholar is Robert A. Sungenis Ph. D, a theologian and Christian apologist, and the president of Catholic Apologetics International(CAI). In his article at:


http://www.catholicintl.com/index.php/latest-news/247 he notes:

"The job of each Catholic is to protect the papacy and Joseph Ratzinger is no exception to that mandate. He cannot put the papacy in precarious positions and exploit it for future book sales. The Church has had enough opinions from the prelature. It is time for hard and fast decisions about what the Church is and what it meant by what it officially stated, especially what it “officially” stated at Vatican II. Wouldn’t it be nice if the pope, after 50 years of turmoil created in the wake of Vatican II, actually wrote an official document with the express purpose of clearing up the inordinate amount of ambiguities in the major documents of Vatican II? THAT would be something to get excited about! But another book, like Jesus of Nazareth, which spends 300 pages delving into the finer points of historical criticism and arguing about which of the four Gospel writers got his facts right, we need like we need vinegar on our teeth.
Now, in reviewing Jesus of Nazareth it became apparent to me why Joseph Ratzinger, regardless of his apparent love of Scripture, must cease taking center stage under the name Pope Benedict XVI. The basic reason is, Jesus of Nazareth, although very uplifting and insightful in several places, contains a disturbing amount of dubious theological propositions; lack of scholarly exegesis; misuse of biblical criticism; and a general ignoring of Catholic tradition. The problem is exacerbated in that I wouldn’t expect most college professors to be able to sort out the problems in Jesus of Nazareth, much less would I expect the Catholic masses to do so. The latter, as I noted above, will take Jesus of Nazareth as Gospel, and that is precisely what frightens me the most.
In light of the dichotomy the book makes between Joseph Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI, I simply do not know which one to refer to when I address him. There are enough theological problems in the book that I hesitate to attribute them to Pope Benedict, but then again, Joseph Ratzinger no longer exists, ecclesiastically speaking. So I have decided to refer to the book only by its title, which I will form into a handy acronym called JON, and I will refer to JON as a he instead of an it."


Chris, you may wish to read the rest of this comprehensive article at the above web address.

Cheers

:o)

Anonymous said...

"Modern critical scholarship is not in shambles, Anon. Take the synoptic scholarship that is abandoning the Q document. That's a good thing. It's progress."

Chris, the way you define progress would make it impossible for there to be anything but progress so long as time continues to flow. The fields of homeopathy and parapsychology have been making great strides, because experiments debunking some claims are just more progress! The rapid shifting of explanations from this or that phenomena is progress! The fields are better than ever! Of course they are, if any change at all, any existence of the field at all, any agreement, means progress.

And I didn't say pre-critical scholarship is making a comeback among critical scholars. I said the modern state of biblical criticism is a joke, and in shambles. They're falling all over themselves, and that's likely never to change. So why should I care what today's supposed biblical criticism consensus is, whether or not I agree with the conclusions?

And that's the real point. Bob knows what many critical scholars think. So do I. It simply doesn't matter what they think, because there's little reason to place much stock in them. This will be the case even if modern critical scholarship suddenly endorses apostolic authorship in the majority, and frankly that can't be ruled out. They just don't matter much.

Papalinton said...

From Anonymous: "I said the modern state of biblical criticism is a joke, and in shambles. They're falling all over themselves, and that's likely never to change. So why should I care what today's supposed biblical criticism consensus is, whether or not I agree with the conclusions."

A further case of whining and a swipe at modern biblical criticism because it does not align with his apologetical perspective.

What else would we have expected?

:o(

Anonymous said...

"A further case of whining and a swipe at modern biblical criticism because it does not align with his apologetical perspective."

Newsflash Paps: Modern biblical criticism does not align even with itself. It's fad-laden, and filled with examples of very recent examples of scholarly consensus that have since been dethroned, and will continue to be. The very next fad may be a renewed commitment to apostolic authorship. Or Q again. And it still won't vindicate the field.

But I understand why it gets you so psychologically wound up. You have an emotional need to espouse atheism, and therefore any dismissal of evidence you value gets you all upset. But don't worry, you'll get over it. :-)

Chris W said...

There are a great deal of Christians and Jews who think think biblical scholars matter, Anon & Bob Not to mention Christian apologists like Habermas and Craig who appeal to the concensous of scholarship when arguing from the so-called "minimal facts" to the Resurrection.

As for you not accepting my view of progress, well, that's the humanities for you. There is broad concensous about some things and debate and disagreement about others. I'd hardly call debating scholars "falling over themselves."

Do we understand the origin and meaning of these texts better than we did a couple centuries ago? Sure. What more do you want?

If you don't accept the results, fine. But refusing check out anything new because you think you've heard it all before? That's too bad. There's still good work being done.

Anonymous said...

"Do we understand the origin and meaning of these texts better than we did a couple centuries ago?"

Not really, at least in no way strikingly better or dissimilar from what was already understood for centuries. That more theories have been proposed, and still more of those recent theories discarded in a historical eyeblink despite being recent "consensus", is not much progress.

"If you don't accept the results, fine. But refusing check out anything new because you think you've heard it all before? That's too bad. There's still good work being done."

Who said I refuse to check it out? I'm more than happy to do so. I just don't bother putting much stock in it, or accepting it as (wait for it) Gospel truth. They really are falling all over themselves, and consensus there no more establishes truth than the fact that the green is this year's black establishes that green's the most attractive color around.

Also, Craig and Habermas make use of the "minimal facts" to intentionally operate on the turf of these scholars. It's not meant as an endorsement of the scholar's views or that of the supposed consensus, any more than accepting some claim for the sake of argument is an endorsement of the claim in question.

The best work done by scholars comes from finding new data. Discovering dead sea scrolls, finding physical evidence bearing Pilate's name, and so on. But that's different from their theories, which are, like it or not, in a state of disarray and flux. Saying "well, many scholars doubt apostolic authorship" will get you a soda, assuming you have a buck to go with it.

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

So the best interpretations came when it was literally forbidden to question orthodoxy? That sounds like it has to be wrong.

Papalinton said...

Chris asks: ""Do we understand the origin and meaning of these texts better than we did a couple centuries ago?"

Anon replies: "Not really, at least in no way strikingly better or dissimilar from what was already understood for centuries."

On the contrary, there is a watershed of difference between that which was traditionally accepted and conventionally acknowledged as inviolable fact or proofs within biblical exegesis, and the outcomes of modern higher criticism that have thrown many if not most of those saggy benchmarks onto the pyre of historical residuum. True, Apologetics has reached its use-by date and from that perspective, Anon is correct; nothing about the origin and meaning of the texts is strikingly better or dissimilar from what was already understood for centuries. Indeed, Apologetics had been in homeostasis, a hiatus, for a millennium or more. A static state is the essential attribute of theological conservatism through which the moribund activities of interpretation and re-interpretation can be performed around the conceptual monobloc that is christianity, that can lead to some element of discernible differences. But in the main, " no way strikingly better or dissimilar from what was already understood for centuries."

Modern textual criticism, however, has revitalized academic interest in old ground, and has resulted in significantly fresh and new ways to review the old texts. Much of this review, of course, has triggered fierce debate within the theological/literary community. Much of it contra to 'conventional' institutional church teachings. Anon is just as plain wrong on this score as other commentary he has offered, as the following excerpt from a christian site, one of so many, demonstrates:

"Is there NEW information about the early Christian church?

"How has Christian doctrine changed DRAMATICALLY since its roots in the first century A.D.? Unfortunately, for centuries the world had little access to historical information on the early church. Most Christian churches had to rely on the teachings of men who lived at least a century after Christ's death. These men became known as the "church fathers," whose writings wielded an enormous influence on Christian belief. They undermined the influence and authority of the true founders of Christianity such as James, Peter, and John. The character of the church from the second century down to modern times was set by Justin Martyr, Origen, Tertullian, and many other uninspired men.
Fortunately, the past four decades have seen a plethora of NEW information on what the primitive church was really like. It is amazing what scholars and historians have found!
This new information coupled with what is in the pages of your Bible clearly shows that there is a great difference between the church led by the original apostles and modern Christianity!"
http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/what-did-early-church-believe-preach-after-death-of-jesus.html

One would do well to consider comments from Anon with a healthy dose of justifiable skepticism.

:o)

B. Prokop said...

"This new information coupled with what is in the pages of your Bible clearly shows that there is a great difference between the church led by the original apostles and modern Christianity!"

I've dealt with this before, Papalinton, but once again you are engaging in blatant "Heads I win; tails you lose" posting. Half the time you're complaining because there is allegedly no "progress" in religious thought over time, and the other half you're accusing religions of changing over time.

Gimme a break!

Anonymous said...

"So the best interpretations came when it was literally forbidden to question orthodoxy?"

How could that possibly be the case? Where do you think orthodoxy comes from? The Big Bang?

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

Bob
"Half the time you're complaining because there is allegedly no "progress" in religious thought over time, and the other half you're accusing religions of changing over time."

Nowhere have I talked about "progress of religion". Progress of religion is anathema to institutionalized conservatism and tradition. The fresh and new approach to biblical study is pretty much demonstrating that much of that tradition does not have a grounding in the 1stC CE. What the article is stating that the character of the institutional church is solely a man-made product, quite distinct from the original progenitors of the original church, James Peter and John.

No accusations or complaints here, Bob, just new and corroborated investigative information.

Within institutionalized tradition, ...."there’s neither a method nor an inherent trend in theology to reassess and alter its moral stands in view of changing conditions. Religious morality appears to change under only two conditions: either secular morality moves ahead of religious morality, causing it to change (e.g., treatment of women and gays or, in this case, condom use and birth control), or scientific advances show that the scriptural basis of religious morality is simply wrong (e.g., there’s no Adam and Eve and hence no Original Sin).
If a religion’s moral dictates remain fixed in stone for centuries, even under the press of secular advances, then that religion loses adherents.  This, of course, is what is happening to Catholicism in so many places."
[http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/case-study-religion-pushed-to-change-its-morality-by-secular-considerations/ ]

This BBC News video about southern US is well worth watching:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15978933

Anonymous said...

"Nowhere have I talked about "progress of religion"."

Lies. You know what Bob meant, and you certainly have. You shift between claiming that religion never, ever changes because everything is dogma, and that religion always changes because it lacks any commitments at all and is unfalsifiable. You're inconsistent, and dull-witted to boot.

And there is no such thing as "secular morality". You should know. ;)