Saturday, January 05, 2013

Should God have to make everything clear?

One theme of atheists is that if God were to exist, he would make everything clear, and there would not be a multiplicity of religions. Why think a God, if God existed, would make everything clear. If everything were clear, we would have no real choices. There would be one choice, and all other choices would be punished, and everyone would know what that punishment was and do the right thing for selfish motives.

71 comments:

B. Prokop said...

Thank you for posting this, Victor. I've mentioned before on this website that I've given much thought to the Temptation in the Desert (Matthew, Chapter 4, and elsewhere). Always in the forefront was the question, "What could tempt God?" (I am assuming as always that there is no play-acting going on here. The Doctrine of the Incarnation implies, heck it demands, that the action be real.)

The Second Temptation is in many ways the most interesting. "Throw yourself off the Temple," the devil suggests. Why? Because he is tempting God tocompel belief by "signs and wonders". sure God could so design things and/or events so as to make his presence irresistible. But that is precisely the trap Satan wishes God to fall into. "Go ahead, take the gift of free will away from your creation. Don't give them a choice in the matter." Jesus's answer says it all: "You shall not tempt the Lord your God."

The answers are there, but He's not going to force us to accept them.

Syllabus said...

Synchronicity is an interesting thing. Just today I was watching Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, which deals with a similar question (the Silence of God).

The answers are there, but He's not going to force us to accept them.

True, but we should always beware of giving over-pat answers to difficult questions - and, in my opinion, there is probably not a more difficult one than this.

B. Prokop said...

Oh, right you are, Syllabus. But I don't think that affirming that the evidence is there, but not "compelling" is an overly-pat answer. Because unlike Loftus, who absurdly defines Faith as belief in spite of evidence, I define it as believing the evidence while working through one's questions and doubts. I often get the impression that some of the atheists on this site would rather one just throw up his hands at the first difficulty, rather than doing the tough job of actually confronting it. Faith means not being blown around by the latest thought to come by, but to "test all things" and learn from them.

Walter said...

Because he is tempting God to compel belief by "signs and wonders"

Jesus supposedly performed all manner signs and wonders during his ministry, was he compelling belief and removing the gift of free will from first century Jews?

And what is so important about belief anyway? I would think that a personal and benevolent God would be far more concerned with our behavior as opposed to our beliefs.

B. Prokop said...

And you don't think belief influences behavior?

Syllabus said...

Jesus supposedly performed all manner signs and wonders during his ministry, was he compelling belief and removing the gift of free will from first century Jews?

A 1st century rabbi healing the lame and the blind =/= God writing His name in the stars or making Himself immediately present (in all manner of panoply), for reasons that I would think obvious.

I would think that a personal and benevolent God would be far more concerned with our behavior as opposed to our beliefs.

You say that as if there's an immediate bifurcation between the two.

cautiouslycurious said...

“ If everything were clear, we would have no real choices. There would be one choice, and all other choices would be punished, and everyone would know what that punishment was and do the right thing for selfish motives.”

And why would this be a problem? It surely can’t be because of the punishing of people choosing otherwise because it would be the same even if the intentions aren’t clear. I fail to see how the apparent motivation would be relevant, given omniscience. God would know if you were genuine or not a la the objection to Pascal’s wager. Also, given the benevolence attribute, creating a society where people behave morality, even for selfish reasons (e.g. prison sentences), would be better than anarchy.

Walter said...

A 1st century rabbi healing the lame and the blind =/= God writing His name in the stars or making Himself immediately present (in all manner of panoply), for reasons that I would think obvious.

Point being that he performed supernatural deeds in front of people, which in turn caused some to believe. Did this destroy free will? Was Paul's free will trampled when Jesus knocked him off his horse? The reason a lot of people don't believe today is because they do not experience anything even remotely miraculous, which makes tales from the bible sound more like fantasy than reality.

Matt DeStefano said...

I think the more disconcerting problem for theists is the lack of clarity given God's abilities. If God (1) wants a relationship with human beings, (2) wants human beings to act in a certain way, and (3) is the Moral Law Giver, it seems that the evidence not only could be a lot better, but that it should be.

While God doesn't "have to" make everything clear, given the Biblical description of what God desires for human beings, I don't see that we have a good idea of what types of goods might come from keeping His existence a mystery.

Dougherty and Poston have written a paper about this ('Divine hiddenness and the nature of belief'), but I find their comparison of 'goods of mystery' and 'goods of clarity' to be rather lackluster.

Wagner said...

But the Bible is clear that hell exists.

Does this information make christians act only for selfish motives?

Walter said...

And you don't think belief influences behavior?

I realize that you are an almost-universalist when it comes to salvation, but my question is more for those who believe that heaven has an entrance exam that is scored by how many correct religious propositions that we assented to while on earth.

Syllabus said...

Point being that he performed supernatural deeds in front of people, which in turn caused some to believe. Did this destroy free will? Was Paul's free will trampled when Jesus knocked him off his horse?

No, and I don't think that God revealing Himself to everyone, everywhere, would do so either, so the entire point is moot. We have genuine choice between two alternatives, but we are not free from influences that we have - explicitly or otherwise - given ourselves. That is to say, we can actually choose, but the choice is not made out of a sort of "view from nowhere".

The reason a lot of people don't believe today is because they do not experience anything even remotely miraculous, which makes tales from the bible sound more like fantasy than reality.

Some certainly do, I concede. I've felt that same impulse myself. But I think that a lot of those people - I won't give proportions, because I don't know - wouldn't change their mind even if they were to have a religious experience of some sort. Look at Terry Pratchett.

B. Prokop said...

"The reason a lot of people don't believe today is because they do not experience anything even remotely miraculous."

This objection was dealt with in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus:

"Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And [the rich man] said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' [Abraham] said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"

Walter said...

"The reason a lot of people don't believe today is because they do not experience anything even remotely miraculous."

B. Prokop: This objection was dealt with in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus:

Are you saying that every single unbeliever in Christianity today would remain an unbeliever even if they saw powerful signs and wonders being performed by Christ's most loyal followers? I don't believe that for a minute! There would be some for sure, but I guarantee that a great many would convert and hit their knees. But despite the fact that Jesus claimed that those coming after him would do even greater things than he did, we see no evidence of it.

Matt DeStefano said...

"Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And [the rich man] said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' [Abraham] said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"


This is obviously untrue, and there are plenty of instances in the Bible where non-believers are convinced by the miraculous. To name a few:

1 Kings 18: 20-40 (Elijah burns a goat despite it being drenched in water, which convinces a group of doubters)

Daniel 3 (The Blazing Furnace)

Acts 8:5-13 (Simon the Sorcerer who was convinced despite being a conjurer of tricks himself)

Acts 9:1-18 (Saul's conversion)

There are many, many more, but these should suffice for now.

Syllabus said...

This is obviously untrue, and there are plenty of instances in the Bible where non-believers are convinced by the miraculous.

Actually, I'm with Matt on this one. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, found in Luke 16, is preached specifically at the Pharisees. Within that context, the whole "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead." seems to be addressed at a specifically Jewish audience, rather than the population as a whole, and thus takes on a rather different meaning.

B. Prokop said...

"despite the fact that Jesus claimed that those coming after him would do even greater things than he did, we see no evidence of it"

But we have, we have... hospitals, great universities, the (ongoing) abolition of slavery, the recognition of the dignity of the individual, the spread of the Universal Church throughout the world, the healing of drug addicts and alcoholics, the sheltering of the homeless, the feeding of the hungry, clothing of the naked, care for the widow and orphan, the comforting of those that mourn, and all the other Works of Mercy being carried out at this very moment. Are these not "greater things"?

Well, I'm logging off for the night. And to stay with my New Year's resolution to keep internet-free Sundays... I'll see you all on Monday!

Dan Gillson said...

I think atheists borrow this theme from a notion in epistemology that some sort of Outsider, i.e., something whose rationality is not limited by being human, should settle our doubts about ourselves and resolve our disputes about the world.

Dan Gillson said...

Just to be clear, the notion to which I referred is a theoretical one.

Papalinton said...

"The answers are there, but He's not going to force us to accept them."

Hmmm. The argument from obfuscation.

im-skeptical said...

"The answers are there, but He's not going to force us to accept them."

Why is it that the answer is different depending on what family or culture you're born into?

Dan Gillson said...

i. I don't know what Papalinton means by "the argument from obfuscation." I don't even think he knows what he means. Another vapid attempt at sounding smart, I suppose.

ii. im-skeptical, could the answers be different because the questions are different?

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

I don't think the questions people ask are fundamentally different. Who made us? Why are we here? How we answer those questions is clearly influenced by our culture and the beliefs that are instilled into us from early childhood.

Papalinton said...

"i. I don't know what Papalinton means by "the argument from obfuscation." I don't even think he knows what he means."

Persiflage, Dan, persiflage. But then christian spirit channelers are not known for their sense of humour. Your statement says little about me but speaks volumes of your ignorance, clearly. Indeed you wear it like a badge of honour as it were. I picked this one up from one of your superstitious woo-woo confreres at this site:

In part: "... Krauss covered the whole gamut of atheist arguments from obfuscation to irrelevancy. [my bolding]

So I can't lay claim to that one.

Incidentally, having attended a few lessons in biblical languages or some such, I thought you if anyone would have understood and appreciated my comment.

Dan Gillson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Gillson said...

… *sigh*

Jack Hudson forgot a comma after "arguments", you dolt. Corrected, the sentence should read "… Krauss covered the whole gamut of atheist arguments, [COMMA, COMMA, COMMA.] from obfuscation to irrelevancy." THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ARGUMENT FROM OBFUSCATION.

But, you did prove my point: you were merely trying to sound smart, using what you thought was a term without knowing what it meant first. Go me.

Steven Carr said...

'f everything were clear, we would have no real choices. There would be one choice, and all other choices would be punished, and everyone would know what that punishment was and do the right thing for selfish motives.'

I think that is why God is unclear about what kinds of morality people should have.

He wants us to make choices.

If people clearly knew what they were going to be punished for, they would behave morally just to avoid punishment.

B. Prokop said...

Let me tell you, taking a day off from the internet each week is a great idea! For one thing, it gave me time to compose an in-depth reply to the last several comments directed at me on this thread, instead of just dashing off a few words so as not to leave them unanswered.

First off (mainly to Syllabus): I see only slight evidence that the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus was “preached specifically at the Pharisees”. True, the Pharisees are briefly mentioned earlier in the chapter, but this part of Luke is so obviously a mish-mash of sayings collected from various times that it is hard to say just who the specific audience is for any particular passage. (For instance, the parable is immediately preceded by a statement about divorce which seems totally out of context.) But in any case, no matter who it was initially addressed to, surely its significance is universal.

Secondly: There is little indication in the Gospels that the miracles of Jesus were such that the free will participation of their witnesses was overridden. A good example of this is the Feeding of the Five Thousand. This presumably astounding “sign and wonder” is immediately followed by a demand for a sign! (John, Chapter 6) What, they didn’t just see one? Heck, even after the Resurrection, Matthew notes “when [the disciples] saw [Jesus] they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17)

Third (and this will get me into Big Trouble with Walter and some others here): I truly do believe that there is sufficient evidence “out there” for one to come to believe in God without necessarily being a personal witness to the miraculous.

A. Paul’s assertion: “For what can be known about God is plain ... Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20) And I agree – I maintain that it does take an act of will to objectively observe the physical universe and yet remain an atheist. Atheists are what they are because they wish to be; not because they have been convinced by any supposed evidence.

B. The Historical Record: The Gospels have stood up to (and passed with flying colors) the most meticulous inquiry into their historicity that any documents have ever been subjected to – ever. No account has ever undergone such exacting scrutiny into authorship, dating, textual analysis, linguistic structure and nuance, archeological confirmation, and reliability of transmission as have the Gospels. We have not done so to Herodotus, Thucydides, Cicero, Seneca, Plato, Josephus, or indeed any historical record whatsoever. Not even close.

B, Part Two. No plausible explanation has ever been put forth to explain the Resurrection, other than that it actually happened. Believe me, I’ve read them all, and it would be a kindness to call even the best of them “pathetic”.

C. The Will to Disbelieve. I still think Dostoevsky said it best in The Brothers Karamazov, where he wrote that the materialist, confronted with a miracle, would simply re-define his materialism to include what he just witnessed. Loftus has repeatedly stated that he would indeed do exactly that.

There yet remains D. The Toolbox Analogy, but I think I’ll save that for a future comment.

Steven Carr said...

PROKOP
The Gospels have stood up to (and passed with flying colors) the most meticulous inquiry into their historicity that any documents have ever been subjected to – ever.

CARR
In other words, they are full of the same Frauds and lies as any other religious book.

To such an extent, that not even believers like Victor try to sell the idea that Jesus really did fly into the sky on his way to Heaven, as recorded by 'eyewitnesses'.

I wonder if on his trip to Heaven, Jesus bumped into Muhammad on his horse. That would be an insurance claim form that would be worth reading!

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

Just one point. In the Bible we are repeatedly told that men are wicked, hard of heart and will not bow before God, not even if they witness miracles. The idea that witnessing a miracle is somehow a sure ticket to faith and obedience is pure, unmitigated tosh. The whole history of Israel and the gospels are witness to that. For heaven's sake, when Jesus was arrested everyone abandoned him, even the apostles.

Walter said...

Third (and this will get me into Big Trouble with Walter and some others here): I truly do believe that there is sufficient evidence “out there” for one to come to believe in God without necessarily being a personal witness to the miraculous.

Walter is a deist, so he believes in God. He also enjoys good movies, long walks on the beach, and talking about himself in the third person. Basically, I would agree that there is sufficient evidence (for me) to point towards an agent cause for the world we live in. Where I disagree with you is in your assessment of the evidence for Christian theism specifically.

Prokop: No plausible explanation has ever been put forth to explain the Resurrection, other than that it actually happened. Believe me, I’ve read them all, and it would be a kindness to call even the best of them “pathetic”.

The only evidence we have for the resurrection is a collection of texts written by believers for believers, so it is no surprise that the miraculous explanation is the best fit for the evidence we do have.

Prokop: The Will to Disbelieve.

...the materialist, confronted with a miracle, would simply re-define his materialism to include what he just witnessed.


Not all unbelievers in Christianity are materialists. In fact the world is filled to the brim with non-Christian theists, so I must persist in disagreeing with you that further miracles would not help to swell the ranks of the converted.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

I must have been unclear in my phrasing. I'm not referring to non-Christian theists, but to materialist atheists. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

BenYachov said...

"Should" implies God is obligated to make himself clear & or do a miracle?

God has no such obligations.

I wish you people would read Brian Davies & stop wasting time on BS issues.

B. Prokop said...

"God has no such obligations."

Ben, how do you interpret the following?

"Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25)

B. Prokop said...

This very “chicken or the egg” question of “Is such-and-such good because God commands it, or is God good because he commands such?” that we keep returning to in these threads is one reason for paying close attention to the Doctrine of the Trinity, and not just to affirm it. One does indeed crash up against such a rock if you adhere to an Islamic idea of God – unitary and utterly alone in his divinity. Not so for Orthodox Christians. With a Trinitarian God there is no such conundrum.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each have obligations toward each other, but note carefully - said obligations are not to some authority higher than God, but to Himself. Were God unitary, this would not be possible. But the relationships between the three Persons are all within the divinity Himself. No need to call upon a non-existent superior framework.

We see this principle at work when God says at various places in the Old Testament, “By my own self I swear,” thus demonstrating that He is Himself the standard.

So, depending on what exactly Ben means by his statement that God has no obligations, I do not agree.

B. Prokop said...

Steven Carr,

The only thing your many postings ever accomplish is to demonstrate the proof of the following:

"The scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not." (Proverbs 14:6)

I have yet to find an instance where ridicule ever advances an argument. All it does is to make the ridiculer look either stupid or immature. Do you actually think that someone is going to read one of your "contributions" and say, "Gosh, all this time I've been wrong! From now on I will agree with Steven Carr!"? Thought not.

Walter said...

So, depending on what exactly Ben means by his statement that God has no obligations, I do not agree.

Classical theists state that God has no moral obligations towards humans because created beings are not God's peers. Protestant neo-theists tend to believe that God does have obligations towards humans the way a father has obligations to his own children.

grodrigues said...

@Walter:

"Classical theists state that God has no moral obligations towards humans because created beings are not God's peers."

This is not quite correct.

Syllabus said...

Classical theists state that God has no moral obligations towards humans because created beings are not God's peers.

To be clear, though, this doesn't mean that God can act in any way He so pleases towards humanity, such as - say - causing humans to do evil, or commanding adultery as morally obligatory. It just means that God is not a "moral" agent in the sense that we are. God doesn't "not have" moral duties and obligations in the sense that we "have" these things. Rather, such language can't really be used in a 1-to-1 way when applied to God, in the same way that we wouldn't speak of the gender of a piece of quartz.

BenYachov said...

>Ben, how do you interpret the following?

>"Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25)

Rather what is meant here by "do right"?

God cannot lie, not because He is obeying some moral law above himself but being Truth Itself by nature he cannot lie.

OTOH not having any obligations to us He is not obligated to inform us of every particular true thing or prevent us from misunderstanding the truths he reveals.

God has obligations to Himself in a sense but I am not disputing that.

Syllabus gets it thought as does grodrigues.

Walter almost gets it but falls short.

Mike Darus said...

All of these arguments are the same.

a) I see pain in the world
b) If there was a good God, there would be no pain.
c) There must not be a good God.

a) There is confusion about the truth in the world.
b) If there is a wise God, there would be no confusion.
c) There must not be a wise God.

a) The sky is blue.
b) If there was a color coordinated God, there would be no blue sky.
c) Thre must not be a color coordinated God.

guy said...

i'm having a difficult time imagining the possible world in which everything is "clear." What would that look like?

Also, is there no willful element in belief? Perhaps "belief" is poorly defined here. i take it as granted that religious faith differs from mere assent to a proposition. Even in a world where everything was "clear," wouldn't rebellion still be an option? If so, there'd still be a choice, wouldn't there?

--guy

B. Prokop said...

Guy,

Usually what skeptics are asking for is "signs and wonders". Some, like Loftus, have quite specifically demanded to see stars arrange themselves to spell out Bible verses, or some such nonsense like that.

It's quite amusing, actually. They are perfectly willing to accept all sorts of stuff "from authority", such as the Big Bang, or Dark Matter, or the existence of subatomic particles, or even (especially!) historical events like the execution of Socrates or the Battle of Salamis, for which we have but single sources of information... but when it comes to the New Testament, nothing short of they themselves being eyewitnesses will satisfy them.

guy said...

B. Prokop,

i suppose that's my puzzlement--even eyewitness experiences could be explained away, and especially if people simply don't want to accept what they've seen, no?

Syllabus said...

They are perfectly willing to accept all sorts of stuff "from authority"

In a certain way, it's a bit like the reverse of young-earthers.

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

"It's quite amusing, actually. They are perfectly willing to accept all sorts of stuff "from authority", such as the Big Bang, or Dark Matter, or the existence of subatomic particles, or even (especially!) historical events like the execution of Socrates or the Battle of Salamis, for which we have but single sources of information... but when it comes to the New Testament, nothing short of they themselves being eyewitnesses will satisfy them."

ECREE.

Papalinton said...

Dan
"Jack Hudson forgot a comma after "arguments", you dolt. Corrected, the sentence should read "… Krauss covered the whole gamut of atheist arguments, [COMMA, COMMA, COMMA.] from obfuscation to irrelevancy." THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ARGUMENT FROM OBFUSCATION."

That's what Apologists have been doing with the christian mythos since the days of Eusebius, presenting a revisionist rewrite. Hudson didn't forget a comma. That is in your head because that is the only way that you can cope with cognitive dissonance; to re-interpret his words to fit your worldview. And this fits hand in glove with your attempt at revisionism of Hudsons words:

Eusebius: ""It will sometimes be necessary to use falsehood for the benefit of those who need such a mode of treatment." "

See HERE

The context for your indifference to truth and dishonesty is pretty much captured in this article by Lee Salisbury, who was 'for fourteen years a Bible-believing, Pentecostal preacher and now hosts the Cable TV series Free Thought Forum". See HERE In part, Salisbury notes:

"Eusebius, Constantine’s overseer of church doctrine and history, who was later honored as "Father of Church History," is quoted in his book The Preparation of the Gospel that "it will sometimes be necessary to use falsehood for the benefit of those who need such a mode of treatment." Eusebius’s condoning fraud exposes the mind-set of the Roman Catholic church and her Protestant progeny in instituting a dominant savior-god clone."

It seems you maintain the scholastic tradition of the christian apologist, unconcerned with the truth even as you revise and re-script even recent history [Hudson's words].

If ever there was a case why you god should have made everything clearer, here is one example. You would not needed to have to re-write Hudson to match your mind-set.

Sheesh!

Syllabus said...

ECREE

How are you defining "extraordinary" in this instance?

Papalinton said...

Syllabus: "To be clear, though, this doesn't mean that God can act in any way He so pleases towards humanity, such as - say - causing humans to do evil, or commanding adultery as morally obligatory. It just means that God is not a "moral" agent in the sense that we are. God doesn't "not have" moral duties and obligations in the sense that we "have" these things."

And you know all this from ..........?

im-skeptical said...

"How are you defining "extraordinary" in this instance?"

You, know ... like the whole rising from the dead thing and other events that strike some of us as being extraordinary, even if they seem normal to you.

Syllabus said...

You, know ... like the whole rising from the dead thing and other events that strike some of us as being extraordinary, even if they seem normal to you.

OK. First of all, though, the entire point of the Resurrection in Christianity is that it is not normal. But leave that by the wayside for now.

More interesting to me is the language "strike some of us". There seems to be a sort of appeal to intuition in order to define what is/is not ordinary/extraordinary. Now, while it it certainly isn't necessarily out of place, it strikes me as being a very unclear - and thus less than helpful - and subjective definition. I was thinking of a definition that could, in theory, be applied to any factual claim, whether miraculous or no, as a sort of litmus test, say. So I dunno.

Papalinton said...

Bob
'The Historical Record: The Gospels have stood up to (and passed with flying colors) the most meticulous inquiry into their historicity that any documents have ever been subjected to – ever. "

I would imagine the Egyptians also claimed this during the 3,000 year reign of their religion. Contemporary Hinduism seems pretty comfortable with that exact claim about their Vedas.

"No plausible explanation has ever been put forth to explain the Resurrection."

To have any semblance of unbiased credibility, this is where the sentence should have ended. Just because Catholicism is bigger than, older than, more powerful and uglier than many christian denominations that categorically don't subscribe to the physical resurrection interpretation, it doesn't make the catholic version any more substantive than any other christian interpretation. See HERE and particularly HERE. It seems the 'bodily' resurrection is as controversial today as ever it has been in the past. No way forward here, I'm afraid. Total nonsense in every way unless of course you punt for theological woo-ism.

"The Will to Disbelieve. I still think Dostoevsky said it best in The Brothers Karamazov, where he wrote that the materialist, confronted with a miracle, would simply re-define his materialism to include what he just witnessed."

Drawing on fictitious characters in a fictional town in which Dostoevsky explores the ubiquitous nature of the human condition seems pitched at about the right level against which theological fictive assertions should be referenced. Good for you.

"Heck, even after the Resurrection, Matthew notes “when [the disciples] saw [Jesus] they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17)

Mark tells a very different story. He knows absolutely nothing about all this nonsense. Once Verse 9-20 were found to be later forgeries, the women run away from the grave and tell no one, not one. "That's where the Gospel ends. So nobody finds out about it, the disciples don't learn about it, the disciples never see Jesus after the resurrection, that's the end of the story. But later scribes couldn't handle this abrupt ending and they added the 12 verses people find in the King James Bible or other Bibles in which Jesus does appear to his disciples." [Wiki]

So which is the trooth?


im-skeptical said...

Syllabus,

You're right, but anything that is supernatural would fit the definition, I think. After all, these are things that we NEVER observe, at least in the modern era. If the NT contains a story about some kind of event that simply does not happen in the world I live in, I'd call that extraordinary. I need more evidence before I can believe it. If someone tells me that a guy named Socrates lived and was executed, it may not be historically true, but I don't have a hard time believing it (and I don't have a particular reason to believe that it didn't happen), because things like that actually do happen.

Syllabus said...

If the NT contains a story about some kind of event that simply does not happen in the world I live in, I'd call that extraordinary.

So, to take that remark and make a definition from it, your methodology basically seems to be that if we find, in a document, descriptions of an event that we do not see happening today, to claim that such an event is to make an "extraordinary" claim, and would need "extraordinary" evidence to substantiate it. Is that a fair assessment.

Syllabus said...

that should read: Is that a fair assessment?

Syllabus said...

Crap, bloody typos. That should also read: "to claim that such an event happened"

Dan Gillson said...
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Dan Gillson said...

Linton, you f***ing idiot:

i. Editors also present revisionist rewrites when sentences don't make sense, e.g., the sentence "… Krauss covered the whole gamut of atheist arguments from obfuscation to irrelevancy" makes no sense without a comma after "arguments". When you insert the comma in the appropriate place, i.e., after "arguments", the sentence suddenly makes sense: "… Krauss covered the whole gamut of atheist arguments, from obfuscation to irrelevancy." Clearly, Hudson is talking about a whole range of arguments offered by Krauss, from obfuscating arguments to irrelevant arguments. Furthermore, Jack Hudson recently updated his post, adding a comma after "arguments". So I win, you prig.

ii. For the last f***ing time, I don't believe in God. You lame attempt at painting me as an apologist is inane, as is your water-thin assertion that I'm "unconcerned with the truth". F*** you, dude. It's you who is unconcerned with the truth, not me. If you were at all concerned with the truth, you'd get your facts straight before you made you stupid accusations.

im-skeptical said...

Syllabus,

I suppose there are some things that we don't observe today, but that we have good reason to believe happened at some time. An example might be dinosaurs walking upon the earth. I stress that we have good reason to believe that.

We have no reason to believe that people have risen from the dead, other than a book of fiction called the New Testament. There is NO corroborating evidence of any kind (unlike evidence of dinosaurs, which is abundant). The fact that someone wrote a story about it is not sufficient evidence to convince me that it happened.

I can't understand why Christians think the biblical account of the resurrection is so convincing. The evidence they cite would never stand in any court, or in reference to any other supreme being.

Papalinton said...

Dan
'Furthermore, Jack Hudson recently updated his post, adding a comma after "arguments". So I win, you prig."

Well, well, well! That is amazing! Dan, Hudson's god certainly moves in mysterious ways, doesn't he?

Judging by the dates of the following comments on his site, April-May 2011, Hudson's Opinion Piece has been up for nearly two years. Deductively, there are two possibilities how this comma could have so mysteriously appeared in the last 24 hours. Someone on this site alerted him or he visited Victor's site. In either case Hudson probably shat himself and couldn't smuggle in the comma fast enough. Sneaky devious little bugger. Or, [but you and I wouldn't for one moment think it plausible] he was blessed with a revelation from God that a comma should be added, now, within in the last 24 hours even though the OP has been posted for some 2 years. Now that truly would be a miracle, wouldn't it?

Both you and I have commented on the missing comma. The comma seems to have been added between your statement:
"Jack Hudson forgot a comma after "arguments", you dolt. Corrected, the sentence should read "… Krauss covered the whole gamut of atheist arguments, [COMMA, COMMA, COMMA.] from obfuscation to irrelevancy." posted 11.06 PM on Jan 06, and your statement provided above, at 7.21PM on Jan 07. It is clear from your two statements that a comma has since been added in the intervening period. Unless you now of course retract the intent of these statements, and claim that the comma had always been there.

What a wonderful gem of a story for a Miss Marple or a Hercules Poirot detective story: 'The Case of the Missing Comma". :o)

I did chop into you a bit, didn't I? Sorry about that. But it seems I am seemingly as sensitive to personal attack:

"i. I don't know what Papalinton means by "the argument from obfuscation." I don't even think he knows what he means. Another vapid attempt at sounding smart, I suppose." and "Linton, you f***ing idiot:"

as you also seem to be:

"It seems you maintain the scholastic tradition of the christian apologist, unconcerned with the truth even as you revise and re-script even recent history [Hudson's words].
If ever there was a case why your god should have made everything clearer, here is one example. You would not needed to have to re-write Hudson to match your mind-set."


Your godlessness is duly noted. And yes, I did forget your rejection of superstitious nonsense on a previous post: "He mostly doesn't give me a hard time, but that's because I'm not a Christian." Incidentally, what are you? [in terms of what guides your worldview, that is]

jackhudson said...

Hey folks, I added the comma because I saw the link coming into my blog and followed the trail.

Once here, I agreed the sentence needed a comma as there is no formally defined 'argument from obfuscation'.

Beyond that, it seems arguing over a comma while ignoring the rest of the post would be, as Jesus put it, "straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel"

B. Prokop said...

Jack Hudson,

Any thoughts on my initial posting to this thread?

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

"Hey folks, I added the comma because I saw the link coming into my blog and followed the trail."

Thanks Jack.
Which post are you meaning should be ignored, yours or this one?

Yes, as Bob asks, any thoughts on his initial posting to this thread?

jackhudson said...

Without reading through all the comments, I have to say with regard to the original point that multiplicity of religions is a product of God's hiddenness is probably superfluous given the fact humans often ignore truths that are extremely clear. So even if the God did make certain truths about Himself clear (and I think He has) it would be no guarantee that humans would accept or attend to that truth. So I don't think we need to resort to epistemic distance to explain the existence of various religions.


Hopes this answers the question.

Syllabus said...

I suppose there are some things that we don't observe today, but that we have good reason to believe happened at some time. An example might be dinosaurs walking upon the earth. I stress that we have good reason to believe that.

OK, so we're narrowing the field down a little bit. So, basically, this might whittle things down to, perhaps, "things which we do not see happening/occurring/present in our time, and which we do not have good reason to think happened/existed/what-have-you". This brings us around to an interesting set of questions, namely, what constitutes "having good reason to believe x". It strikes me that there's a lot going on there. What might constitute, in your opinion, a "good reason" to believe x or y? It further strikes me that the question of what kind of universe we are living in - what can and cannot happen, what usually or unusually happens, etc. - would be relevant at this time.

We have no reason to believe that people have risen from the dead, other than a book of fiction called the New Testament.

Now, I think I understand what you're trying to get across here, but I think that you're also being imprecise and, perhaps unintentionally, mistaken. What I presume you mean by "book of fiction" is "a book full of made-up stories". This is mostly untrue, I think. About the only book of the New Testament that can be called "fiction" in a total sense is the Revelation. Most of the New Testament, recall, is comprised of the epistles, both Pauline and otherwise, which can hardly be called fiction (as I think you'll agree). Now, when it comes to the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, I think that's still wrong. Whether or not you think that what the Gospels recount is mostly accurate, it's pretty settled that the documents contain a good deal of historical core. Now, it can be argued precisely how much of the content is totally, unequivocally historical, and that's an important discussion. But the fact remains that calling the New Testament "fiction" is, at best, a stretch.

And, again, I think this gets back to the question of what kind of universe we live in. If you're convinced from the outset that miracles are impossible (I don't know precisely where you stand on that, but I suspect that you think that they're impossible), then any assessment of the authenticity of these documents begins with an immediate petitio principii. So that has to be settled beforehand, I think.

There is NO corroborating evidence of any kind (unlike evidence of dinosaurs, which is abundant).

To what event specifically do you refer? The Resurrection, or the miracles in the New Testament in general?

The fact that someone wrote a story about it is not sufficient evidence to convince me that it happened.

That's an entirely fair point. So, therefore, I would suggest looking at the professional literature. See what the experts in the field have to say. And read both sides, while examining both the methodology and the presuppositions of both sides (which, I assure you, both sides have). Since this is a field where I (and, I assume, you) are not experts, we have to look at the expert literature and make a judgement call based upon good information. But, again, the question of what kind of universe we live in seems to need to be settled before hand, otherwise any inquiry will be decided before it starts, it seems.

im-skeptical said...

Syllabus,

Your points are well taken.

Summary of proofs of resurrection:

1. The empty tomb.

possible explanations:
- Body rose from the dead.
- Body was removed.
- Body was never there.
A missing body doesn't prove resurrection.

2. The Holy Women Eyewitnesses

Christian explanation:
- In those days it was not common for women to bear witness to such events. Therefore, it must be true.
My take:
- A report coming from a woman does not prove resurrection.

3. Jesus' Apostles' New-Found Courage.

Christian explanation:
- Anyone who understands human character knows people do not change that much without some major influence.
My take:
- Many people have become dedicated converts to many different causes, often without rational justification. This does not prove resurrection.

4. Changed Lives of James and Others.

See comments for #3.

5. Large Crowd of Eyewitnesses.

Christian explanation:
- it would be impossible for a large crowd of people to have had the same hallucination at once.
My take:
- story could have been embellished after the fact.
- people might have seen someone they thought was Jesus, but who was actually not Jesus.
- This is not an eyewitness account. This a story about people who supposedly were witnesses. This is nothing but hearsay. There are NO eyewitness accounts of people seeing Jesus rise, or meeting him after death.

6. Conversion of Paul.

Christian explanation:
- He endured many hardships and death for his for this cause.
My take:
- So did Nazis for their cause. Comments for #3 apply.

7. They Died for Jesus.

See comments for #6.

8. Why did the disciples make themselves look bad in the Gospels?

Christian explanation:
- They must have been telling the truth.
My take:
- They didn't write those stories. By the time the gospels were written, they were probably all dead.

Much of the whole argument rests on people being converted or dedicated to the cause of Christianity. Why is that convincing? There are so many causes that people are dedicated to, that people die for, but that doesn't speak for the validity of the cause. Nothing outside the NT corroborates it. Even the various accounts within the NT don't agree with each other. The available evidence for resurrection is extremely weak to anyone who is not already convinced.

B. Prokop said...

im-skeptical,

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Gospel accounts prove the Resurrection in and of themselves. But they are evidence of such, and damn good evidence at that.

More to the point however, is your interesting listing of alternative explanations for the event, plus a few others I've heard over the years (wrong tomb, stolen body, lying apostles, revived near-dead Jesus walking out of the tomb, mass hypnosis, pure fiction, etc.). The plain fact is that none of these can stand up to critical analysis anywhere near as robustly as the bald assertion that it actually happened. Every one of these alternatives has time and again been shot through with more holes than a Swiss cheese. In fact, just listing them leads one to give more credence to the story as recorded.

But if you're going to reject a priori the possibility of the miraculous, then of course you will not be able to see the reasonableness of such an explanation. There are wheels within wheels here. I maintain that the rejection of miracles is completely arbitrary and without any foundation. I have yet to see anyone ever give anything amounting to even a half-way convincing case against the possibility of miracles. Not even close.

Ilíon said...

It's a dodge

Ilíon said...

"But if you're going to reject a priori the possibility of the miraculous, then of course you will not be able to see the reasonableness of such an explanation."

'Science!' and Miracles ... and Skepticism!

What are the odds, I wonder, that 'im_skeptical' is skeptical about the assertion of 'Science!' that "once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street"?

I'd be willing to bet that his skepticism toward *that* sort of thing is utterly nill.

But, tell him that an axe-head which had flown off its handle into a body of water had been caused to float to the surface, where it could be retrieved, and his skepicism claxons all go off.

I'd be willing to bet that his skepticism toward the assertion of 'Science!' that mere non-living matter just happened to turn into living organisms is utterly nill.

But, tell him that a dead organism had been caused to come back to life, and that's just a bridge too far for his skepticism.

=========
These people are not skeptical; that's just a pose they strike.

And you people enable their dishonesty.