Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Electrons and faith

We walk by faith and not by sight. 

Not seeing is different from not having reasons. I have never once seen an electron. I believe they exist. By faith?

209 comments:

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Crude said...

In before the obvious response: "It's not faith at all. I believe electrons exist because it's a popular scientific theory backed up by solid empirical evidence and experiment!"

'Alright. Could you explain the evidence and the experiment?'

"Well, I can google quickly and try to bluff!"

B. Prokop said...

Yes, if by that you mean "faith in a competent authority". Also it requires an even larger faith in conspiracies to not believe in electrons. (My default position, when it comes to conspiracy theories, is to disbelieve them until overwhelming non-circumstantial proof positive is demonstrated.)

So yes, I believe in the existence of China by faith (I've never been there), and because I disbelieve in the idea that "they" are maintaining a massive effort to deceive me into thinking so.

It's also why I believe in the existence of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Antiochus Epiphanes, and in the literal historicity of the Peloponnesian Wars, the Volkswanderung, and the Resurrection of Christ.

Papalinton said...

faith |fāθ|
noun
(1) complete trust or confidence in someone or something [electrons. China, etc]
(2) strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof [resurrection]

The abuse and misuse of the word 'faith' by conflating definitions 1 and 2 as if being one and the same.

B. Prokop said...

Linton,

There is plenty of evidence for the Resurrection. The fact that it does not convince you does not equate to there not being any. There are people out there who do not believe the Newtown school shootings took place, but their disbelief does not mean there is no proof for their occurrence.

Papalinton said...

Oh I think we can safely conclude, as most reasoned Christians are now realising and accepting, in light of contemporary genuine biblical textual and historical study and analysis rather than the tradition of affirmation deeply embedded in apologetical Christian scholarship, that this old chestnut is more about the general case for a Spiritual Resurrection, not about a physical resurrection. Indeed the disconfirming evidence for a resurrection of the flesh is simply overwhelming.

And as we all know most New Testament scholars are "theologically committed" to the text. Despite all the emphatic assertions about the occurrence of the resurrection there can not be any evidence for a resurrection. The resurrection can only be believed to have occurred on the basis of theological reasons, not historical reasons. Belief in the resurrection is akin to a person stepping off the roof of a ten-story building to defy gravity. Ehrman makes this abundantly clear IN THIS SHORT VIDEO EXCERPT .

William said...

We belive in electrons because it works to do so, and the alrnative didn't work out (see here).

We need to believe in our tools if we are to use them properly.


Crude said...

We belive in electrons because it works to do so, and the alrnative didn't work out

Who's 'we'? Physicists or serious (not fake) science buffs with a considerable amount of knowledge? Because I'd be surprised - unless you're a physicist - that you've ever been faced with a situation that turned on whether or not you believed in electrons.

More than that, even in those cases - is belief in an electron necessary? It's not like scientific anti-realists just stop performing experiments.

William said...

Crude,

Belief in electrons is needed only if we are actively using the theories that require the concept (see Quine).

I've heard there at metaphysicians who do not believe that composite object exist, but I suspect they still believe in them (in effect) if they use a pocketknife.

Confident use of the object is implicit belief.

Crude said...

William,

Belief in electrons is needed only if we are actively using the theories that require the concept (see Quine).

I've heard there at metaphysicians who do not believe that composite object exist, but I suspect they still believe in them (in effect) if they use a pocketknife.

Confident use of the object is implicit belief.


I'm not buying it. But let me try another approach here.

Take Physicist A and Physicist B. A's a materialist. B's a Berkeleyan idealist. Call belief X 'the belief that electrons exist'.

Could A and B hold the same belief X? I imagine both could believe the sentence 'Electrons exist' to be true. But I think what X would mean for A and B would be relevantly different.

Bring in C. C is agnostic about metaphysics. But C accepts X. Is that possible? And if it, then what does C believe in when he accepts X?

HyperEntity111 said...

B. Prokop: ''There is plenty of evidence for the Resurrection.''

What's the evidence for the resurrection?

William said...

Crude,

Yours are good points, I admit.

Can a consistent nominalist about numbers use arithmetic consistently?

I guess it depends on whether truly nonexistent things can be used by anyone?

B. Prokop said...

"What's the evidence for the resurrection?"

The New Testament, the Early Church Fathers (especially Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna), the history of the early church, the martyrdoms of the Apostles, the fact that Christianity exists today, the widespread parallelism with pagan mythologies worldwide, etc., etc.

There is also "negative evidence" in the sense that after 2000 years, no one has yet come up with a coherent, believable alternative explanation that explains all the facts. The various speculations brought up at various times (wrong tomb, disciples stole the body, mass hallucination, lying sons of bitches, total fabrication (i.e., there never was a Jesus in the first place to be resurrected), half-dead Jesus revives in tomb and walks out, or it was never meant from the start to be taken literally, i.e., the Evangelists were using a metaphor, etc.) are all less plausible that the simplest explanation around - that the thing actually happened as recorded.

Now the fact that a number of people may not find the evidence convincing does not alter the fact that the evidence exists. After all, the OJ Simpson jury acquitted the murdering bastard, but the evidence for his guilt nevertheless existed. Mr. Wilson (a.k.a. Papalinton) seems to think that only things he agrees with counts as evidence. I can't keep everyone's pseudonyms straight on this website, so I don't know where you (Hyperentity) stand on the issue of the literal historicity of the Resurrection.

Does that help answer your question?

Crude said...

William,

Can a consistent nominalist about numbers use arithmetic consistently?

Not sure consistent nominalists are possible either!

I think what may be the case is a halfway point between what you said and what I said. It may be that the scientist needs to be a realist about SOMEthing - but that something is, in large part, outside the realm of science. So A and B both are in the end forced to be realists about electrons, but they both accept ultimately different models of electrons despite there being something in common between them. And C's stance may not be possible.

Just speculating.

HyperEntity111 said...

So if I understand you correctly the evidence is:

Christians wrote documents claiming that this event took place. These Christians were willing to die for their beliefs. It seems to you that the best explanation of the claims recorded in these documents is that the events actually occured.

Personally, I don't believe that the resurrection occured. My reasons for rejecting it are summarised by the atheist in this debate (although I myself am not an atheist):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta-eJQlY9Lg

Suppose a) the issues raised by the philosopher in that video could be refuted b)if there were multiple non Christian/anti Christian sources documenting the event at around the same time it occured (and by multiple I mean in the couple of hundreds) c) naturalistic explanations were shown to be false/implausible.

In such a case I'd admit that belief in the resurrection is rationally permissible. The constraints mentioned above are flexible so if someone convinces me that they are too stringent and can propose alternative criteria for assessing miracle claims I'd be happy to adopt them.


B. Prokop said...

"Personally, I don't believe that the resurrection occurred."

Irrelevant. My point, from my very first posting on this thread, was that evidence exists. Whether or not you find the evidence convincing is beside the point.

HyperEntity111 said...

That's an extremely weak point. That's like saying there's evidence that atheism is true and pointing to the arguments of Richard Dawkins as your evidence. Or claiming that there's evidence that humans don't have thoughts and pointing to the writings of Alex Rosenberg as their evidence.

And when someone notices that these arguments are demonstrably false you declare: 'Oh whether you find these arguments convincing is irrelevant. I was just saying that the evidence exists'.

Ok fine. If you want to call that kind of thinking 'evidence' be my guest. If you're going to use evidence in extrenely weak sense of 'someone, somewhere has arued for it' go ahead. But I'll wager that when most atheists say 'There's no evidence for religion' they don't mean 'religious people don't make arguments to support their beliefs'. What they actually mean is 'There's no evidence for religion because religious apologetics is obvious bullshit'.

Now I'm not saying that this is necessarily the case with respect to arguments for the resurrection. But it seems to me that there are very strong reasons for doubting the resurrection and when I asked for evidence I was hoping for a bit more than a curt 'Christians give arguments for it and I believe it'.

Papalinton said...

The resurrection has about as much plausibility as Mohammed flying to heaven on a winged horse.

And of course we all know Hogwarts actually exists because hundreds of millions have people can testify to reading about it in a book that recorded and documented it. There's even been a movie about it, just like Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'.

HyperEntity111 said...

Fail. The author of the Harry Potter books is still alive and insists these were works of fiction. Biblical authors claimed they were recording facts and were apparently willing to die for their beliefs. Try again Paps.

Crude said...

But it seems to me that there are very strong reasons for doubting the resurrection and when I asked for evidence I was hoping for a bit more than a curt 'Christians give arguments for it and I believe it'.

I think even you would have to recognize the existence of evidence for the resurrection - your youtube link deals with two people arguing about that very thing. The existence of the evidence is not in dispute. What is is the status of arguments and evaluations of it. (Seeing things on the list like 'Some people have lived for a while during crucifixion!' is not encouraging.)

Maybe you weren't disputing that, but only Bob's reply.

HyperEntity111 said...

Crude: 'What is is the status of arguments and evaluations of it.'

Yeah my point was more about the status of the evidence rather than its existence. Of course I realise that Christians give arguments for the resurrection. But what is the status of those arguments? That's more interesting the question.

B. Prokop said...

"That's like saying there's evidence that atheism is true"

No, no, NO! Not my point at all. What some posters to this site assert with wearisome repetitiveness is that there is NO evidence for the Resurrection. My contention is that they might not like the evidence, or may reject it, or think that there is better evidence to the contrary (after all, in most trials both the prosecution and the defense will present evidence for their opposing sides), but they cannot deny that there is evidence.

And I am NOT referring to the fact that "someone has argued for it". The Gospels are, if nothing else, evidence. So is the testimony of the Early Church. So are all the other things I listed, and many things besides. These are not "arguments", but are rather the basis for arguments. Apples and oranges.

So, yes. Whether or not you find the arguments "false" is very much irrelevant. Because we're not discussing arguments or conclusions, but whether evidence exists. What you make of it is another matter entirely.

HyperEntity111 said...

As I said, I think we're talking past each other. You misinterpreted me as suggesting that Christians don't give arguments (or 'evidence' if you prefer) for the resurrection. Actually I was questioning the quality of the evidence they give. But if you don't want discuss the issue that's fine.

B. Prokop said...

"But if you don't want discuss the issue that's fine."

Oh, not at all. I love discussing that "issue" (I just didn't think it was on-topic for this particular thread). You can see the many detailed arguments I've presented for the literal historicity of the Resurrection in previous threads on this website. Happy to do it again, although by this point, I'd be largely repeating myself from earlier conversations.

Papalinton said...

Hyper
'Fail. The author of the Harry Potter books is still alive and insists these were works of fiction. Biblical authors claimed they were recording facts and were apparently willing to die for their beliefs."

That was indeed my point in making the comparison. We know Harry potter is a work of fiction because Rowling is still around to inform us. The writers of the resurrection story weren't even around at the time the apparent resurrection occurred. They were simply retelling other people's stories who had told them stories from others who had told stories earlier. It is historiographically and evidentially irrelevant what the biblical authors imagined as claimed fact. EHRMAN makes that point comprehensively. And the apparent willingness to die for their beliefs is a scurrilous non sequitur. Jim Jones' Christian cult, to a person, seemed also willing to die for their belief, but neither you nor I would take that as proof of the veracity of their claim.

The only failure here is to continue according unwarranted and undeserved deference to a belief system that is both archaic and anachronistic in a contemporary societal setting, an assortment of primitive beliefs that ought to have been superannuated in an earlier time. Nonetheless, better late than never.

B. Prokop said...

" The writers of the resurrection story weren't even around at the time the apparent resurrection occurred."

You write this as though it were fact. But in reality, the late dating of the Gospels is a mere hypothesis with no hard evidence whatsoever to back it up - none, only sky blue conjecture. Since this thread is about evidence and believing things on faith, I'd say it would be a far greater "act of faith" to assert late dating as fact than it would be to accept the Resurrection as historical. We at least have evidence for that!

Even a layman like myself can see from the most cursory glance (and believe me, I've given them more than that), that the Gospels (all four of them) were written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Look at John, where he writes "Est autem Jerosolymus probatica piscine, quae cognominatur hebraice Bethsaida, quinque porticus habens." Now why in the world would he be using the present tense here, were he writing subsequent to the Romans' complete destruction of the city? The Pool at Bethsaida, as confirmed by contemporary archeology, was buried in rubble after that event, and wasn't unearthed until the late 19th century.

In fact, this is really a quite amusing point here. It used to be that biblical skeptics such as Mr. Wilson were using this very pool as evidence that John was not familiar with Jerusalem at all and had just made the whole thing up. Because after all, no one could point to any such pool, and there ought to be at leastsome trace of it left for us to see today. But since archaeologists discovered and dug up the pool, which matches exactly the detailed description of it given in John, utter silence on their part.

So there is tangible, verifiable evidence for early dating of the Gospels. (And much, much more than this one example.) Where is the same for their late dating? And pu-leeze don't list the URLs of a bunch of "scholars" - what is the hard evidence?

B. Prokop said...

"neither you nor I would take that as proof of the veracity of their claim"

I certainly wouldn't regard it as proof of Mr. Jones's claim, but I would very much regard it as evidence of such. It's just that it's outweighed by the preponderance of other evidence against his claims.

ingx24 said...

I find it interesting that people say they can't "see" electrons. Of course you can - they make up everything you see around you! It's just that you can't see the individual particles - the divisions between particles are what can't be seen, not the particles themselves.

Just a semantic quibble :P

B. Prokop said...

ingx24,

Hmmm... Since photons are produced by electrons falling from a higher energy orbit to a lower one, I'm not sure the concept of "seeing" an electron even has meaning. It'd be kind of like seeing the back of your own head without a mirror.

Dan Gillson said...

1. I'm not so sure that the adequation between "not seeing an electron" and "not seeing God" holds. For one thing, electrons don't belong to the same explanatory framework as God. For another thing, God doesn't work as an explanans in a scientific framework, because the phenomenon of God still requires a scientific explanation. (This is another reason why ID doesn't work: it's supposing what it still needs to explain.) Most of us here have accepted the fact that the results of scientific analysis either supplement or correct the framework of ordinary experience, even if such an acceptance is provisional. We accept it because the scientific framework purports to evaluate our ordinary framework. Believing in the existence of electrons isn't the same as, i.e. isn't adequate with, believing in God.

2. To repeat myself from earlier: skepticism always outpaces certainty. One can always find reason not to believe something, can always find a way to make our knowledge inadequate. Luther's insight that faith is our fundamental orientation to the world was his contribution to epistemology in general, not just theology.

B. Prokop said...

Dan,

Luther was on to something there. Beyond "I think, therefore I am" it's hard to come up with anything that we can truly say we know for absolute certainty. (And I understand that some philosophers claim to have shot holes in even that statement, but I fail to see how.) By and large, we simply make a pact with ourselves and choose to not be insane, and accept the world around us as reality.

Hmmm... Perhaps that's another reason why Faith is included amongst the Virtues.

((Oh, no!!! My "prove you're not a robot" word for this posting was Ilion. I hope that's not a bad omen!))

Ilíon said...

Omens? How utterly primitively pagan!

Ilíon said...

Still, I expect it was more likely a message from God, than an omen.

Dan Gillson said...

Bob,

I'm not sure the situation is such that we make the choice to not be insane, but I get the drift of what you're saying. Regarding your point about absolute certainty, Wittgenstein makes a poignant remark in the beginning of On Certainty: "From its seeming to me--or to everyone--to be so, doesn't follow that it is so. What we can ask is whether it can make sense to doubt it."

ingx24 said...

Beyond "I think, therefore I am" it's hard to come up with anything that we can truly say we know for absolute certainty. (And I understand that some philosophers claim to have shot holes in even that statement, but I fail to see how.)

I think how seriously one takes that statement is what divides the materialists from the dualists/idealists. William Lycan (a materialist himself) admits this:

"More generally: The materialist of course takes the third-person perspective; s/he scientistically thinks in terms of looking at other people, or rather at various humanoid bags of protoplasm, and explaining their behavior. But the dualist is back with Descartes in the first-person perspective, acquainted with the contents of her own consciousness, aware of them as such. Notice carefully that we need not endorse many of Descartes’ own antique and weird views about the mind (that it is entirely nonspatial, that it has no parts, that mentality requires language). The point is only that we know the mind primarily through introspection. (Duh!) That idea may, very surprisingly, be wrong; it has been attacked by Ryle, by Wittgenstein and by Sellars among others. But it is obviously common sense, and to deny it is a radical move." (HERE.)

Bob, you should read The Soul Hypothesis by Baker and Goetz (both dualists), especially the first chapter. I think you'll find it interesting how far materialists are willing to go to avoid believing in anything beyond the physical world.

Crude said...

Dan,

For another thing, God doesn't work as an explanans in a scientific framework, because the phenomenon of God still requires a scientific explanation. (This is another reason why ID doesn't work: it's supposing what it still needs to explain.)

If brute facts or necessary facts are allowed in scientific explanations (I don't think they are, at least for brute and not for 'necessary' in the relevant sense), then it seems God needs no scientific explanation.

More than that, again I'm going to ask how ID supposes God. Especially since ID expressly doesn't even infer God specifically.

I think 'adequate' is iffy. You can accept the electron model without accepting the electron, odd as that sounds.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

If one supposes that God is a brute fact, or that "God did it" is, then every explanation merely restates supposition, if you follow the trail long enough. And yes, ID provisionally accepts that aliens could have been responsible for life on earth. However, if we pursue that line of inquiry long enough--if we ask who or what is responsible for the life on whatever planet the aliens are from, and if we ask who or what is responsible for the life on the alien planet of the aliens who were responsible for the aliens who created life on earth--we'd probably still stop at the explanation "God did it".

Crude said...

If brute facts or necessary facts are allowed in scientific explanations (I don't think they are, at least for brute and not for 'necessary' in the relevant sense), then it seems God needs no scientific explanation.


Rather - it seems that God can be a scientific explanation.

Crude said...

Dan,

If one supposes that God is a brute fact, or that "God did it" is, then every explanation merely restates supposition, if you follow the trail long enough.

How about the universe/nature being a brute fact, or 'nature did it'?

And yes, ID provisionally accepts that aliens could have been responsible for life on earth. However, if we pursue that line of inquiry long enough--if we ask who or what is responsible for the life on whatever planet the aliens are from, and if we ask who or what is responsible for the life on the alien planet of the aliens who were responsible for the aliens who created life on earth--we'd probably still stop at the explanation "God did it".

Here's the problem I have with this response.

A) How do we know that? The in principle possibilities are considerable. Maybe there's an endless chain of designers. Maybe one those 'aliens' are brute facts.

B) Why do we have to pursue the line of inquiry that long? No one complains that, say... identifying such and such piece of bone as the work of a tribesman is a problem because 'well then we have to explain the tribesman'. The identification itself is seen as a step forward.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

I'm acquainted with the notion of brute facts through John Searle. As I understand them, brute facts are linguistic tokens which portend a reality external to human thought; they aren't identical with such a reality. But yes, if we take (mistake, really) 'nature' or 'the universe' or 'reality' as a brute fact, then we end up with the exact same problem.

Re A: Sure, the logical possibilities are endless, but speculating about such things doesn't pique my interests. (I'm not boring, I promise.)

Re B: To quote Wittgenstein: explanations come to an end somewhere. If a certain piece of decorative bone (the explanadum) is the handiwork of a tribe or a tribesman (the explanans), we have an end to the line of inquiry that's internally consistent with the beginning. Unless we have reason to doubt our explanans, it's safe to put an end to our line of inquiry.

Crude said...

Dan,


A: Alright, but that seems to upend the claim that 'God did it' is going to be the obvious end of the ID investigation.

B: But if that's the case, it seems like you can say the same with ID explanations. If you can end your inquiry with a purported tribesman, you can end your inquiry with a purported designer of life, or earth, or even our universe.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

I'll happily concede the first point with the proviso that although God is outnumbered by all the other logically possible candidates for an intelligent designer, there is a large segment of ID proponents who have quite a stake in it being God, putting all other contenders for intelligent designer practically out of contention. Plus, logical possibilities are nothing to get excited about: it's also logically possible that we are zombies.

Re B: You can, but there's good reason to doubt that life (or earth, or the universe) has a designer.

Crude said...

Dan,

I'll happily concede the first point with the proviso that although God is outnumbered by all the other logically possible candidates for an intelligent designer, there is a large segment of ID proponents who have quite a stake in it being God, putting all other contenders for intelligent designer practically out of contention.

Here's the problem I have with this. Granted, the ID movement has theists behind it - no question. But their argument and their inferences only go as far as they say. That, to me, seems to be beyond dispute. There's no shortage of ID opponents or 'naturalistic evolution' proponents who have a stake in concluding things in an atheistic way. If one's scuttled, both are scuttled.

You can, but there's good reason to doubt that life (or earth, or the universe) has a designer.

Isn't that question begging against the ID proponent, at the very least? They're contending that there's good reason to believe life, or earth, or the universe, had a designer.

Personally, I believe both cases have nothing to do with science directly. The problem I have is when one side ones to say they have scientific evidence (here's incident X of life, which seems poorly designed - therefore, scientific evidence against a designer), but insist that the other side's evidence (here's incident X of life, which seems well designed - therefore, scientific evidence for a designer) is not scientific.

I think the proper thing to do is to reason the way I do - argue that talk of 'design' or purposes or reasoning is outside the bounds of science. It's a valid form of reasoning and argument, but 'science' it ain't. The problem is, this not only defangs ID proponents - it defangs their opposition too. And the price of being honest and consistent about this is one hell of a price for some to pay.

Papalinton said...

'Even a layman like myself can see from the most cursory glance (and believe me, I've given them more than that), that the Gospels (all four of them) were written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70."

It is the great desire of apologists to squeeze the dates as close as possible to the event. But this is based on theological reasons, not on historical reasons.

This very short commentary from Boston College illustrating the timeline accepted by the vast majority of Biblical scholars crystalizes the latest understanding on the dating of the gospels.

In respect of the claim, "The Pool at Bethsaida, as confirmed by contemporary archeology, was buried in rubble after that event, and wasn't unearthed until the late 19th century," it is not unknown and with far greater probability, as history has demonstrated time after time after time, the likelihood of retrojecting a known pool into the story increases exponentially.

There is no fudging here, I'm afraid. Just straight plain old reasoned assessment of the worth of the information without resort to hyperbole on its 'factual'[?] value.


B. Prokop said...

"it is not unknown and with far greater probability, as history has demonstrated time after time after time, the likelihood of retrojecting a known pool into the story increases exponentially"

Huh? I can't make heads nor tails out of this sentence. Could you please repeat it in plain English?

B. Prokop said...

Hilarious! I specifically write: "Where is the same for their late dating? And pu-leeze don't list the URLs of a bunch of "scholars" - what is the hard evidence?" And what does Mr. Wilson do? Gives me a URL.

Linton, I've read my fair share of biblical scholarship, to include those who believe in late dating. None of them have ever put forth the least scrap of actual evidence to back up their claims. Even your link includes such knee-slappers such as:

"likely perished during", "likely encouraged", "researchers believe (my emphasis)", "likely assembled" (this, by the way, in reference to a mythical manuscript labeled "Q", which no one has ever seen, no copy or even fragment is extant, no contemporary has ever referenced, is never quoted or even mentioned by the Early Church Fathers, yet is believed in by faith alone),"possibly written traditions". And you swallow this stuff as (excuse the pun) the Gospel Truth?!?!? Good grief, there's better evidence for life on Mars that that!

So here, on this website (not with a link), please show us some hard evidence for late dating of the Gospels. No "appeal to authority" by citing this or that scholar's opinion. Where's the evidence?

ingx24 said...

Most NT scholarship these days is worthless because it assumes, from the outset, that the claims of Christianity are false, and makes conclusions (no matter how ridiculous) to fit that preconceived assumption. I say this as someone who cannot imagine believing in the truth of Christianity: If you're going to dedicate your professional life to investigating the claims of an established religion, you cannot assume from the outset that the claims of the religion are false and use that assumption as a premise in forming historical conclusions. You have to be open to the possibility that the claims might end up being true after all.

B. Prokop said...

You also have to take into account the possibility of non-scholarly motivations in the work of certain "scholars". Take Bart Ehrman, to whom Mr. Wilson so loves to link. Imagine if he were to publish a work on the New Testament concluding that the four Gospels were written by people named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that they were all written within a generation of the Crucifixion, and that they portrayed actual historical events with an impressive degree of accuracy. Would he now be the Big Name that he is? Would he be invited to The Daily Show and to The Colbert Report? Would his books be big sellers? Would he be granted a prestigious post at a major university? I think not. In all likelihood, he'd be a simple pastor at a neighborhood church, respected by and inspirational to his community, hopefully caring for their needs and providing comfort and support during times of stress or trial.

Call this an ad hominem if you wish, but it is what it is. Just as I wouldn't trust a report on global climate change from an oil company or a cancer study from a tobacco company, I have no automatic faith whatsoever in "scholarship" when the author's livelihood depends on his being controversial or in some way standing out from the crowd.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

1. I disagree. The ID movement is largely funded by the Discovery Institute, and they clearly have a political stake in science education. The DI wants to call what they do "science" when it clearly isn't (even you admitted to this). Neo-darwinists may want to conclude things in an atheistic way, but as far as I know, they haven't formed a well funded organization meant to influence public opinion and policy. If the ID movement is scuttled, it will have no effect on neo-darwinism.

2. Of course ID-ers contend otherwise, but that doesn't mean that I'm begging the question. (I may be raising a question, but as far as I can tell, I've not committed a petitio principii fallacy.)

3. I don't want to go through my old posts, but I'm pretty sure we agreed earlier that ID is a valid form of reasoning, but only if it doesn't take a negative case against evolution as a positive case for an intelligent designer. (The evolution doesn't explain this, therefore … designer! logic.)

Crude said...

Dan,

I disagree. The ID movement is largely funded by the Discovery Institute, and they clearly have a political stake in science education. The DI wants to call what they do "science" when it clearly isn't (even you admitted to this).

Sure. The problem is, neither is what Dawkins, Coyne, and many others call 'science' when they try to basically do ID's mirror image, and claim to scientifically infer the lack of design in nature.

Intellectually, they have equal standing. If it's impossible to infer the design of nature in science - if this question is simply outside science's bounds - then so is inferring its lack.

Neo-darwinists may want to conclude things in an atheistic way, but as far as I know, they haven't formed a well funded organization meant to influence public opinion and policy.

This is just wrong. Look at the NCSE. It's exactly what you speak of.

If the ID movement is scuttled, it will have no effect on neo-darwinism.

I meant intellectually, not politically.

2. Of course ID-ers contend otherwise, but that doesn't mean that I'm begging the question. (I may be raising a question, but as far as I can tell, I've not committed a petitio principii fallacy.)

Then I don't understand your reply in the response I was answering.

I don't want to go through my old posts, but I'm pretty sure we agreed earlier that ID is a valid form of reasoning, but only if it doesn't take a negative case against evolution as a positive case for an intelligent designer.

I don't recall this, and it would have to be reasoned out. I'd agree that an argument that simply was 'evolution doesn't explain this, therefore design', it wouldn't work. ID never makes this simple case - they provide positive reasons for inferring why a design is capable of X and Y. That may involve saying that evolutionary process have thus far been inadequate to be reasonably considered the explanation for X, but 'involves' is key. There's other steps.

On the flipside, arguing that 'evolution is responsible for X', in and of itself, doesn't validly get one to conclude that X is not designed. Intelligent agents demonstrably use evolutionary processes for various ends, and in the case of either a knowledgeable enough or omniscient/omnipotent being, it has zero traction on its own.

B. Prokop said...

I've never been able to understand why ID vs evolution has to be an either/or proposition. When I was project manager for a huge development effort in the Dept of the Air Force, I learned that "design" in no way means waving a wand, saying "Presto" and voila! we have a finished product. Quite the contrary, design was an iterative process involving proposals, testing, initial operating capability (IOC), final operational capability (FOC), and a host of other stages. If life were designed (and I count myself amongst those who think it is) then its development could very well also be an iterative process (i.e., evolution). I see no good reason why both couldn't be embraced simultaneously.

B. Prokop said...

Here is a good explanation of what "design" means in the Real World:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_model

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

Sure, but unlike the DI, The NSCE isn't a shell for anything other than science education. They aren't in the business of promoting an atheistic, materialistic, scientistic agenda. The DI is really a shell for advancing Judeo-Christian metaphysics and ethics. (You can read more about that on their "About" page.)

I haven't read anything ID for a while, but as I recall, the argumentation proceeded in a rather predictable fashion: evolution by itself doesn't account for the complexity of a certain phenomenon, therefore the theory of an intelligent designer can supplement what evolution can't account for. (After reading the review's of Meyer's new book, it appears that I've managed to recapitulate his argument without having read it. Predictability at its best.)

One last thing: you want to have your cake and eat it too: you want to cut out inferring design or ~design from scientific evidence ("If it's impossible to infer the design of nature in science - if this question is simply outside science's bounds - then so is inferring its lack"), but then you want to say that saying 'evolution is responsible for X' doesn't rule out the possibility of X having a designer.

Crude said...

Dan,

Sure, but unlike the DI, The NSCE isn't a shell for anything other than science education. They aren't in the business of promoting an atheistic, materialistic, scientistic agenda.

I'm sorry, but here I have to disagree. The NCSE is politically oriented, not science-oriented. I've dealt, personally, with far too many of their members, past and present, who specify 'conservative Christians' and conservatives generally as their enemies. An organization that is concerned overwhelmingly with 'how many people say they believe in evolution' - not how many people understand it, but how many people parrot that they accept it - is not interested in mere science education.

I haven't read anything ID for a while, but as I recall, the argumentation proceeded in a rather predictable fashion: evolution by itself doesn't account for the complexity of a certain phenomenon, therefore the theory of an intelligent designer can supplement what evolution can't account for. (

If you are basing this off reviews rather than the book itself, I can understand why you'd think that. But what you're describing is simply not the case. Inference of an intelligent designer by ID argumentation - right or wrong - involves citing a wealth of evidence of what intelligent agents are demonstrably capable of. This does involve pointing out inadequacies of evolution, but it's no more 'Darwinian evolution could not have accomplished this, therefore ID' than inferring cause X over Y in any case is always a matter of 'Not X, therefore Y'. Positive reasons for Y are given.

One last thing: you want to have your cake and eat it too: you want to cut out inferring design or ~design from scientific evidence ("If it's impossible to infer the design of nature in science - if this question is simply outside science's bounds - then so is inferring its lack"), but then you want to say that saying 'evolution is responsible for X' doesn't rule out the possibility of X having a designer.

But that's not having my cake and eating it too. That's flat out consistency: science is incapable of inferring the presence or lack of design, therefore evolutionary explanations neither (scientifically) show nor rule out design.

If I said that science can neither rule in or out design, BUT that ID can demonstrate design OR that evolutionary their demonstrates the lack of design, I'd be inconsistent. But I'm not - it's the people who do either of those things who are caught up in a contradiction.

And, far and away, those people in my experience tend to be people promoting atheistic views.

Crude said...

And for the record, to make one thing clear: criticisms of evolutionary theory can entirely be scientific. I think Behe, right or wrong, makes some reasonable scientific inferences about the explanatory power of the theory. Now, that's half of the ID argument - but only half. On its own, it's not ID. That's not the non-scientific part. That would be inferences about design in the relevant senses.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

1. I was recalling the argumentation from ID articles that I read, not summarizing the reviews of Meyer's book. It was merely convenient for me that the New Yorker review of Darwin's Doubt confirmed my recollection of the form of ID argumentation: "Most absurd of all is the book’s stance on knowledge: if something cannot be fully explained by today’s science—and there is plenty about the Cambrian, and the universe, that cannot—then we should assume it is fundamentally beyond explanation, and therefore the work of a supreme deity." In other words, ID theory supplements what evolution can't account for.

2. Using what intelligent agents can do as an analogy for what an Intelligent Designer, be it God or aliens, is bound to fail. Hume pointed that our 250 years ago. We aren't God, nor a species of alien capable of assembling life out of the microparticles of matter. The particulars of our experience of designing things isn't parallel with the particulars of God or aliens doing so.

3. The evidence doesn't cut one way. If you can't infer design or ~design from scientific evidence, then its equally possible that 'evolution is responsible for X' doesn't rule out the possibility of X not having a designer. Your consistency amounts to saying nothing at all.

Crude said...

I was recalling the argumentation from ID articles that I read, not summarizing the reviews of Meyer's book.

Alright. What ID articles have you read? Because I've read their books and their arguments, I've corresponded with them directly, and from what I see, their reasoning absolutely does not reduce to what you're saying here. Even if they're wrong, that's not where they go wrong.

Using what intelligent agents can do as an analogy for what an Intelligent Designer, be it God or aliens, is bound to fail. Hume pointed that our 250 years ago. We aren't God, nor a species of alien capable of assembling life out of the microparticles of matter.

Two problems here. First, Hume's arguments, I do not think, pointed out that these were 'bound to fail'. The best he accomplished was to point out the broad range of possibilities from those inferences alone - but that range is what ID accepts anyway. He also highlighted the fact that these were at best inferences, not logical proofs - again, ID proponents cop to that gladly.

As for the second issue - I think what we've accomplished as intelligent designers is quite something. I think if anything is bound to fail, it's criticisms which rest on perceived incapabilities of minds and designers in principle. (And I say this as someone who has some serious philosophical criticisms of ID. But if someone's accepting a different metaphysical view than mine, those problems are moot.)

The evidence doesn't cut one way. If you can't infer design or ~design from scientific evidence, then its equally possible that 'evolution is responsible for X' doesn't rule out the possibility of X not having a designer.

I didn't say the evidence cuts one way. And I want to be clear here - I think one can infer, make arguments, etc, about the presence or lack of design in the universe, and cite science in that process. But these inferences, these arguments, would not be science. They'd be philosophy, they'd be simple reasoning, they may well be valid and logical and reasonable. But science, they are not.

Your consistency amounts to saying nothing at all.

Completely correct. I think the most reasonable position is that science, as science, is utterly silent on the presence or lack of design in nature. To ask the question or try to answer it is to slide into a different discipline.

That scuttles ID as science, and really, it's most consistent with the actual promising arguments against ID being science (as opposed to ID just being a minority view in science, etc). The problem is, it also scuttles ID's opposite, and that's one hell of a pill to swallow.

Papalinton said...

Sorry Bob, cannot agree with your opinion. After centuries of apologetics by Christians construing a harmonized and syncretic story to best match their beliefs, motivated by no less than deep personal and religious commitment to the Christian text, the scholarship of traditional Apologetics is now being subjected to the greatest and most intense scrutiny as never been experienced before. And Apologetics has been found badly wanting. Since the rise and rise of the German school of Biblical Scholarship, Textual and Higher Criticism, contemporary historians and biblical scholars now professionally refrain from singing from the apologetical hymn book, in order not to compromise their professional standing. Today's biblical researchers practice what you rightly illustrate: "Just as I wouldn't trust a report on global climate change from an oil company or a cancer study from a tobacco company..." so too today's genuine biblical researchers and historians do not take much of traditional apologetics at face value, and indeed do not refer to its as constituting primary, secondary or even tertiary sources of evidence or proofs for that matter.

You overlook the fact that Ehrman was a true dyed-in-the-wool Christian believer when he set out on his journey to the truth of the Christian story. He found that the primary sources of information simply did not square with the Christian narrative, and has since become agnostic. This is being repeated over and over again in ever increasing numbers across the field of biblical studies.

Increasingly, pastors, clergy, reverends, ministers are falling over themselves to get into the Clergy Project, not to mention other safe houses of transition, as they seek to divest themselves of the 'truth' of christianity. Started just a little over a year ago with 7 clergy, some 500+ preachers are now involved. It is an invitation-only private resource for those who now realize the fable as a non-supernatural cultural construct that it is.

I wish Dr Reppert would desist from tossing out these dog-whistle OPs attempting to shore up the flagging emotional and psychological 'spirits'[ ;o) ] of those who believe in supernaturalism and other falsities that go bump in the night. Even a placebo has limits to its effectiveness.

Crude said...

I read up on Hume's argument from analogy, and assuming what I read was accurate, I found something funny about the whole thing.

A good part of Hume's attack on the argument from analogy is precisely that it, in and of itself, does not get one to the omnipotent, omniscient ground-of-all-being God. It's provisional reasoning, and at best gets one to a broad 'designer'. Perhaps polytheism. Perhaps aliens. Perhaps deism. Perhaps various other things.

What's funny about that leg of reasoning is that this is *precisely* where ID proponents say ID gets people, from Behe to Dembski. But my impression is that ID critics are actually furious that ID proponents cop to this immediately. Like it's unfair that they are NOT drawing a false logical inference.

B. Prokop said...
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B. Prokop said...

And yet you do not answer my question. Where is the evidence for late dating? (No URLs, please)

Papalinton said...

What is the source of your facts on the early dating of the gospels? Who are the scholars that have you making the assertion of early dating? I can't find any outside the sphere of apologetics.

BenYachov said...

>What is the source of your facts on the early dating of the gospels? Who are the scholars that have you making the assertion of early dating? I can't find any outside the sphere of apologetics.

So basically anybody who labels the Gospels early is "in the sphere of apologetics"?

How convenient!

BTW you didn't answer Bob's question you merely turned it around on him.

Why can't you just be a man & admit you don't really know? You just "believe" they are late on the "authority" of a some religious skeptical or liberal scholar.

Funny how you have such a hard on for Ehrman these days. You from when I first met you over at Biologos being a dye in the wool Jesus Myther & you cite a militant anti-myther.

Can we at least hope you have evolved(pun intended)?

Papalinton said...

Ben
You know full well the Christian story is mythos. Its origin is an amalgam that emerged from the hotchpotch of contemporaneous belief systems competing with each other, all steeped in the tradition of earlier Middle Eastern religions. The well documented appropriations from Egyptian [the Book of the Dead and the archetypal dead and rising god symbolism], Mesopotamian [the flood story of Gilgamesh and the Code of Hammurabi as the basis for Christian moral teachings], the many Sumerian assimilations, and of course from the real one-on-one competitor of Christianity at the time of the Romans, Mithraism.

As is presented at 'Patheos, Hosting a Conversation on Faith', "In contrast to the carefully cleaned-up and sanitized story presented by orthodoxy, the actual historical record testifies that the theology represented by the gospels was just one thread in a larger tapestry, one that took decades to rise to preeminence. Once it had achieved that status, its advocates engaged in a conscious process of historical revision, making it seem as if their favored belief was the predestined winner all along. In reality, if just a few historical events had turned out differently, the version of Christianity that dominates might have been very different from the one we now see."
[You might want to read up on Patheos HERE. I'll let you in a little secret, it is not an atheist site.]

"BTW you didn't answer Bob's question you merely turned it around on him."
Bob doesn't want an answer. He admitted to that very early in our discussions some time ago on DI, that he never opens or refers to sites, texts, evidence that have been provided.

A belief in Christianity is not an advance in evolving. It is the antithesis to finding the truth. Adherence to such a primitive mind-frame is not unlike a concession to the lowest common denominator of the reptilian brain. Supernaturalism and other falsities that go bump in the night are a stunter of intellectual and philosophical growth and a conversation stopper on the innumerable social, cultural and existential challenges for humanity going forward. To have humanity marking time, locked into a first-century paradigm, is not a solution to meeting those future challenges head on.

The archaic and decrepitude nature of religious thought and praxis simply renders it incapable of managing let alone leading the community in this task.

Papalinton said...

"[You might want to read up on Patheos HERE. I'll let you in a little secret, it is not an atheist site.]"

should read:

[You might want to read up on Patheos HERE. I'll let you in a little secret, it is not an atheist site.]

Kathen said...

I don't think we can talk here about all the reasons for giving a particular date to any of the gospels. I don't suppose Victor Reppert would be prepared to give up his blog to a course on gospel dating.

Nevertheless maybe a few comments are in order. B.Prokop points out that John uses the present tense to talk about the Pool of Bethsaida and that is surely an important point. It would be more impressive if B.Prokop had given the Greek but I have looked up the Greek and yes, it is in the present tense.

Against that I have found John 9:22 'already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.' Since the Christians were not expelled from the synagogues until after 70CE it seems unlikely that this was written before that date.

I found this after a little bit of googling. I am sure there is a lot more out there. But I don't want the bit about the present tense (which is evidence of an early date, I agree) to appear without anything said against it.

B. Prokop said...

" Since the Christians were not expelled from the synagogues until after 70CE"

Nonsense. You think the Christians weren't expelled from the synagogues during Paul's persecution (which was way before A.D. 70?

HyperEntity111 said...

Paps posted: ''The writers of the resurrection story weren't even around at the time the apparent resurrection occurred. They were simply retelling other people's stories who had told them stories from others who had told stories earlier. It is historiographically and evidentially irrelevant what the biblical authors imagined as claimed fact. EHRMAN makes that point comprehensively. And the apparent willingness to die for their beliefs is a scurrilous non sequitur. Jim Jones' Christian cult, to a person, seemed also willing to die for their belief, but neither you nor I would take that as proof of the veracity of their claim.''

1. Given that the authors believed in the truth of their writings, their willingness to die for their beliefs would be evidence of their sincerity and evidence against the hypothesis that they were a bunch of liars.

2. I interpreted the Harry Potter comment as saying that the Bible is false because we have examples of documents containing falsehoods. Your reasoning seems slightly more sophisticated so I apologise for attributing such a crude argument to you. Given my past experience of you, I always assume the worst.

Bob posted: ''Oh, not at all. I love discussing that "issue" (I just didn't think it was on-topic for this particular thread).''

Great! Here’s my issue. I’ve seen a couple of debates where Christians try to show that the resurrection occurred. I’m an outsider to this debate and I can’t say know much about NT scholarship. But what I’ve seen so far is not encouraging. Gary Habermas was humiliated in the debate I linked to. Craig and Licona give arguments but I think they can be defused with two simple observations:

1. Craig’s probabilistic argument requires not only that you assume that God exists but that God desired to raise Jesus from the dead. If you assume this then the probability of the resurrection hypothesis increases. Let’s grant the first assumption because of the philosophical arguments. Why on earth should we grant the second assumption? What evidence is there for it?

2. Assume that Craig et al are presenting an accurate picture of the historical evidence (which is by no means clear but let that pass). Even then, it seems obvious to me that naturalistic explanations are available which are more plausible than Craig’s favoured hypothesis. In fact, no matter how implausible the naturalistic explanations I’ve seen are, they are still far, far more probable than saying ‘a dead man came back to life, walked through walls and flew off into heaven.’

Crude said...

Craig’s probabilistic argument requires not only that you assume that God exists but that God desired to raise Jesus from the dead. If you assume this then the probability of the resurrection hypothesis increases.

This doesn't seem right. Remove 'that God desired to raise Jesus from the dead', and it still seems as if your probability increases. The existence of God would mean the existence of a being entirely capable of the resurrection. Surely that alone raises the possibility?

Even then, it seems obvious to me that naturalistic explanations are available which are more plausible than Craig’s favoured hypothesis.

Does this basically come down to intuition for you? Part of the problem for me is that to read your rendition of the events, it almost - maybe unintentionally - sounds like a naturalistic event anyway. Some random thing that was extraordinarily unlikely but 'just happened', like a bunch of material parts coming together to form an iPad purely by chance. That may well be very unlikely. But that's not how iPads are made, and that's not how the resurrection took place, if it did take place.

BenYachov said...

>Against that I have found John 9:22 'already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.' Since the Christians were not expelled from the synagogues until after 70CE it seems unlikely that this was written before that date.

That is like doubting the excommunication of Peter Waldo in the 12th century because Luther and the other Protestant Rebels weren't excommunicated till the 16th century.


Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Kathen
It is very interesting that you should pick up on the use of the present tense in the writing of John about the pool at Bethesda [Bethsaida?].

As noted: "In general, internal evidence [from the Gospels] is not a reliable marker of when a text was composed. After all, there is always the possibility that a text which was composed late was written to seem early. This is a known problem in the biblical world, where many apocryphal documents were attributed to famous past figures to give them greater authority." SEE HERE.

Equally, if as the vast majority of biblical scholars agree that John was written around 100CE it is highly probable that the use of the present tense was indeed utilized to marry it closer to the event for authoritative effect.

Crude said...

Incidentally, since I saw HyperEntity quoting Linton on this... Let's talk for a brief moment about Jim Jones.

Jones: Well, I’m really heart and mind with you. I’m uh, you know, an agnostic. We have a— some emphasis on the terms of paranormal, because uh, it brings results, uh, there is something to therapeutic healing, all medical science has proven, but we don’t link that with any kind of causative factor of a loving God. Off the record, I don’t believe in any loving God. Our people, I would say, are ninety percent atheist.

So, one of the most destructive modern cults... was an atheist cult. Kind of a shining example of a member of the Clergy Project. ;)

BenYachov said...
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BenYachov said...

Paps those links make old charges that have already been answered dozens of times.

Heck I smacked Hoffman around a few years ago on the "Mark predicted Jesus would come back during his lifetime" mishigoss.

Weak sauce.

Papalinton said...

Hyper
You two points on Craig's hypothesis for the resurrection are telling blows to the soundness of the claim.

Couple this with the concept and understanding of the miracle. A miracle, by definition, is the 'least probable cause' in all circumstances. The great paradox is that It cannot then be used to as evidence for the resurrection as the the 'most probable cause'. It simply defies logic.

You final sentence is the quintessence of reasoned philosophy: "In fact, no matter how implausible the naturalistic explanations I’ve seen are, they are still far, far more probable than saying ‘a dead man came back to life, walked through walls and flew off into heaven.’ "

To believe in the resurrection as presented in scripture is to believe on theological grounds solely. No genuine historian can endorse an occurrence of a miracle as a bona fide historical explanation. Not one.

BenYachov said...

>"In fact, no matter how implausible the naturalistic explanations I’ve seen are, they are still far, far more probable than saying ‘a dead man came back to life, walked through walls and flew off into heaven.’ "

So this is just Neo-Humean "Miracles are impossible" dogma?

Papalinton said...

Crude says, "So, one of the most destructive modern cults... was an atheist cult."

"Background of the Peoples Temple:

This was a Christian destructive, doomsday cult founded and led by James Warren Jones (1931-1978). Jim Jones held degrees from Indiana University and Butler University. He was not a Fundamentalist pastor as many reports in the media and the anti-cult movement claim. He belonged to a mainline Christian denomination, having been ordained in the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ. (At the time of his ordination, the DoC allowed a local congregation to select and ordain a minister on their own. However, ordinations conducted without denominational endorsement were not considered valid within the rest of the church.)"
From the Christian site: RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance .


Crude said...

Background of the Peoples Temple:

Linton, I quoted Jim Jones himself, directly. He was an atheist, and he estimated that 90% of his people were atheist. I'm afraid 'direct audio quote from Jim Jones about himself and his leadership' trumps 'flimsy summary you found on the web'.

Once again, you babbled about something you didn't research or understand, and ended up with egg on your face. It's happened so many times now, you'd think you would have learned the obvious lesson: you should be quiet, and doubt yourself.

BenYachov said...

Paps,

Crude just showed from Jones' own words he was an Atheist.

Wow you really can't handle any assertion an Atheist or Atheism might be responsible for great human evil?

As a Catholic it is natural for me to believe in the sinlessness of Jesus & Mary but it seems a bit incoherent for you to believe in the sinlessness of Atheists and Atheism.

HyperEntity111 said...

Crude posted: ''This doesn't seem right. Remove 'that God desired to raise Jesus from the dead', and it still seems as if your probability increases. The existence of God would mean the existence of a being entirely capable of the resurrection. Surely that alone raises the possibility?''

I'm not sure it would. Perhaps the best way for me illustrate this point is an analogy. Suppose that many people around the world report seeing some person X alive. We find his grave empty. Suppose we make a list of of naturalistic explanations for this event. Now suppose someone were to come along and say 'Since God exists and God can perform miracles, the probability that God raised X from the dead has gone through the roof. It is now on par with the naturalistic explanations'. It's not just resurrection. You can play this game with any miracle claim that you like.

I don't think most people accept this reasoning. Maybe God exists but he's not interested in humans. Maybe God exists but he's interested in one of the other hundreds of religions which contradict Christanity. What is the basis for saying that this particular event warrants divine intervention? It needlessly forces to accept a miracle when other more mundane explanations are readily available.

Saying that the resurrection occured but all the miracles ever reported (miracles which would be evidence for religions that would contradict Chrisrianity) did not occur requires more than ordinary evidence. It requires more than accepting that God exists. You'd also have to know something about God's intentions. You'd have to know that he intended this event to occur but he didn't intend that event to occur. And how would you know such a thing?

HyperEntity111 said...

''Does this basically come down to intuition for you? Part of the problem for me is that to read your rendition of the events, it almost - maybe unintentionally - sounds like a naturalistic event anyway. Some random thing that was extraordinarily unlikely but 'just happened', like a bunch of material parts coming together to form an iPad purely by chance. That may well be very unlikely. But that's not how iPads are made, and that's not how the resurrection took place, if it did take place.''

I'm not really sure what your point here is. If you're suggesting naturalistic explanations of the resurrection are akin to explaining iPads by saying that they make themselves I disagree.

I don't think it comes down to intuition either. Here are some possible explanations for the (alleged) facts surrounding the resurrection:

The disciples were mentally ill and were incredible traumatised by Jesus’ death. The entire story was a fantasy concocted to ease their pain.

The disciples (or people they knew) stole the body and they lied about the events. Perhaps Paul had a dream where billions of people around the world were Christians. He interpreted this as a vision from God that it was his duty to do everything possible to actualise this vision . Perhaps they were willing to die for their claims because they could bear the thought that everything they’d been through had come to nothing and they wanted people to remember their story and remember Jesus the way he wanted them to (as the Son of God).

Now, am I saying that this is what actually happened? I don’t know. Could you pick holes in these stories if you wanted to? Sure. For example, you could try to argue that their conviction makes the liar hypothesis implausible. But that would miss the point.

Each of these explanations has been observed repeatedly in the world. We have many examples of people behaving in absurd and morally dubious ways after having visions they believed were from God. We have multiple examples of people who lie to protect the life or reputation of a close friend or someone they love (often to their own detriment). We have many examples of people who become mentally ill after the death of a loved and invent stories to convince themselves that their loved one never ‘really’ died. You can argue against them if you wish but the fact remains that they are all FAR more probable than assuming that people who die hop back up 3 days later and start flying. I don't think it's intuition believe this.

HyperEntity111 said...

Ben posted: ''o this is just Neo-Humean "Miracles are impossible" dogma?''

I don't think miracles are impossible. Just that we should set extremely high standards of proof for them. Are you seriously telling me that you think that hypothesis that disciples lied is more improbable than Jesus coming back to life?

Papalinton said...

"Linton, I quoted Jim Jones himself, directly. He was an atheist, and he estimated that 90% of his people were atheist. I'm afraid 'direct audio quote from Jim Jones about himself and his leadership' trumps 'flimsy summary you found on the web'.

Read the relevant transcript for context you fool:

"Maher: It was a real shot in the arm, not only just to see the Temple, but to— to see some people out on the street actually doing some things for some real causes in a disciplined and adult fashion, instead of just a bedlam. I mean, it’s uh—

Jones: Well, I’m really heart and mind with you. I’m uh, you know, an agnostic. We have a— some emphasis on the terms of paranormal, because uh, it brings results, uh, there is something to therapeutic healing, all medical science has proven, but we don’t link that with any kind of causative factor of a loving God. Off the record, I don’t believe in any loving God. Our people, I would say, are ninety percent atheist. Uh, we— we think Jesus Christ was a swinger. He taught some pretty damn good things at feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, uh, maybe a little paternalistic, but it’s still uh— all the emphasis of the judgment of character— the only time he ever mentioned judgment at all was in Matthew 25, and it had to do totally with what you were doing for other people, so we— we emphasize the teachings of Christ, but um, we’re a— we are as um— we’re the most unusual church I’ve ever run into, in— in this sense, uh, and we state in the church— I would’ve loved to have been in the foundation. For some years, I’ve been talking to our attorneys to try to get in a foundation, but we have such an influence in the denomination— Our bishop was here Sunday, that’s why we wanted you to meet him and the president of our— of our denomination, I don’t know whether you’re familiar with the— the— the denomination, it’s called the Disciples of Christ. It includes the FBI Director [Clarence Kelley], [Former President] Lyndon Baines Johnson, I think, Senator Monsdale [Sen. Walter Mondale] to give you some background of it—

Maher: Oh, my God, it’s—

Jones: And see, we’re linked, not only as Peoples Temple have— I have my own bishopry of the churches I’ve founded, of about 70,000 members altogether, but (stumbles over words), I’m in official capacity, assistant DA [Tim Stoen] who’s a member is also in official capacity, in the regional denomination of two million. It’s— uh, that stateswide. So we— Giving up the church meant giving up that kind of influence, uh, our— our whole denomination comes out with the most radical kinds of postures, and it’s always Peoples Temple’s caucus that does that—

Maher: Right.

Jones: —So— Otherwise, I would have left the church. I—

Maher: I— I think you’re in the right place, because I think it’s exactly right, uh, because, you know, a lot of these folks have, through their education and their background has made them bigots and fools, that they can hear it from a collar, and they’re basically decent—

Jones: Unfortunately, I think you’re right.

Papalinton said...

"Maher: —and— and that’s— I think that’s essential, because an awful lot of these little Christian people around, too. You know, they vote wrong all the time, and all this stuff, but fundamentally, they’ve— they— they’ve got some good ideas about principles, and if we could just reach them, and I think you’re doing it right, I think that’s the only way to reach them, is from— from— from positions where they— where they can hear it, instead of demanding that they listen to us on the street and—

Jones: Well, thank you for the feedback, ‘cause, I must say, I felt somewhat hypocritical for the last years as I became uh, an atheist, uh, I have become uh, you— you feel uh, tainted, uh, by being in the church situation. But of course, everyone knows where I’m at. My bishop knows that I’m an atheist. He— He knows that I— I— I recognize only love, when I say— I’ll say, "God is Love"— well, you heard my preaching. You know where I’m at.

Maher: Right.

Jones: Uh, I don’t keep it any secret, so when it comes to fundamentalists, I’m not much influenced, but it’s amazing how many liberal churchmen— and even, that you would think, orthodox churchmen— now, for instance. The head of the ecumenical council, I don’t know whether you know him, Dr. Lynn Hodges, it’s over all the Jewish, Catholic and Protestant churches in this entire bay region. Have you ever met him?

Maher: No, I haven’t, sir.

Jones: This man is American Baptist, an official in the American Baptist Church, he comes here, he knows how I feel, and he— when he heard of this article, he got in there, he went in to the Chronicle—

Maher: Very (unintelligible word under interruption)

Jones: He said, now if you— if you bother Jones, I’ll have all— I’ll have so many preachers in here, that it’ll— it’ll bug you to death.

Maher: Very good.

Jones: Now, that— that— there— there are a lot of closet atheists in the church. I— He must obviously be, because he’s heard me say the most outrageous things, and he still supports me, because he said, you do— He— He told— He told the Chronicle — and gave me a copy of what he sent to them, also — he said uh, Jim— Jim Jones and his church does more by accidents than all the other churches do by design."

Ilíon said...

son of confusion: "So basically anybody who labels the Gospels early is "in the sphere of apologetics"?

How convenient!
"

Even considering who this is directed at, the hypocrisy is rich, coming from Mister "Well, sure, if that’s what the Reformation Solas mean, then even I already believe them. But, that’s not what they mean … ‘cause I’ve never seen a Catholic anti-Protestant polemicist admit that’s what they mean."

Ilíon said...

some fool: "Are you seriously telling me that you think that hypothesis that disciples lied is more improbable than Jesus coming back to life?"

Are you saying it's more probable that the apostles and disciples willingly allowed themselves to be murdered – when all they had to do to save their lives was to admit that their claims of the Resurrection were false – than that they really did believe that Christ rose from the dead?

And, if they really did believe that Christ rose from the dead, why did they believe that? And, further, not only what did they believe it, but why did they believe it was so important that its truth was worth more to them than their lives?

Crude said...

Read the relevant transcript for context you fool:

I did, Linton. The 'relevant' parts are that Jim Jones said he was an atheist, and that atheists made up the overwhelming majority of his church. Thank you for pasting more yammering from Jones - not a single scrap of which does anything to speak against what I said.

The transcript does, however, expose your whole 'Jim Jones was a Christian!!!' bit as uninformed idiocy. Which isn't a big deal, because it's what we've come to expect from you.

Again, Linton - all these experiences should make you be quiet, and doubt yourself. It may bring tears to your eyes, but here's the fact: just because you're an atheist doesn't mean you're well-informed. It doesn't even mean you're very smart.

Crude said...

HyperEntity,

I'm not sure it would.

It's pretty straightforward. X is a miracle. X could only be performed by God.

Situation 1: We do not know if God exists.
Situation 2: We know God exists.

Did the possibility of X, in the course of your moving from Situation 1 to 2, increase? I didn't say 'became overwhelmingly the most likely explanation'. But did it increase?

I think it did. Being completely in the dark about God's motivations, etc, does not change that.

I'm not really sure what your point here is. If you're suggesting naturalistic explanations of the resurrection are akin to explaining iPads by saying that they make themselves I disagree.

No, I'm suggesting that when Christians talk about miracles like the resurrection, it's a mistake to treat the miracle as what amounts to 'a particularly weird naturalistic event'. Miracles are, ultimately, intentional acts on the part of powerful agents.

Here's a good example of the problem:

You can argue against them if you wish but the fact remains that they are all FAR more probable than assuming that people who die hop back up 3 days later and start flying.

See that? There's no act of God, there's no intention of an agent, in your description of the events. It's just 'Oh shit, corpse started flying!!' Funny, but for the purposes of the discussion, completely inaccurate. You may as well say 'Oh sure, computers exist. That's right, somehow a bunch of material components fit together in EXACTLY THE RIGHT WAY to perform calculations for humans. That's fucking stupid!'

Yep, it's stupid. It's also not what someone means when they talk about the existence of iPads. 'Intentional acts of agents' changes the iPad talk, pretty dramatically. Now, that alone doesn't mean that iPads exist - but it's definitely a different argument.

The same goes for the resurrection. It's the intentional act of a powerful agent - not some random event that just happened.

So no, I don't think - in context - those explanations are far more probable. I think the evaluation is going off the rails, and the real situation is more complicated than that.

B. Prokop said...

" A miracle, by definition, is the 'least probable cause' in all circumstances."

Huh? By whose definition? Certainly not mine. Treading on dangerous ground here, 'cause I'm way too busy today to give this more than a one-draft, no editing response, but my definition of a miracle would be something like, "a one-time non-repeatable event without naturalistic causation that sheds light on the Incarnation and the Resurrection."

As I'm getting ready for a huge family gathering at my house (my granddaughter is getting baptized tomorrow and the reception is at my house), I'll keep my mind occupied during all the prep work by coming up with a more polished definition. (But it will probably look something like what I just wrote.)

BenYachov said...

>"In fact, no matter how implausible the naturalistic explanations I’ve seen are....."

>"Are you seriously telling me that you think that hypothesis that disciples lied is more improbable than Jesus coming back to life?"

Make up your mind. Are the naturalistic explanations (in this case the disciples lied) implausible or not?

>Just that we should set extremely high standards of proof for them.

What is the basis of this standard, it's content & how do I know it is the correct one and can any religion meet it?

Or is it pre-designed so that no religion can meet it?

Is it just recycled Humeanism?

HyperEntity111 said...

illion posted: ''Are you saying it's more probable that the apostles and disciples willingly allowed themselves to be murdered – when all they had to do to save their lives was to admit that their claims of the Resurrection were false – than that they really did believe that Christ rose from the dead?''


1. What is your evidence that died specifically because if their belief in the resurrection?

2. Please skip to 55:29 in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta-eJQlY9Lg

Cases like the one described by this philosopher are endless. There are people who committ suicide so that they become famous. Human psychology is complicated thing.
If you can't imagine that people might be willing to die for absurd reasons i don't know what to say to you.

Ilíon said...

Kathen: "Against that I have found John 9:22 'already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.' Since the Christians were not expelled from the synagogues until after 70[ AD] it seems unlikely that this was written before that date."

And we know this how? such that we can disregard a document from the time period that says otherwise? (and without even taking into consideration that John 9:22 doesn’t *need* to be understood as being contradictory to the claim that only after the destruction of cultic Judaism did rabbinical Judaism-as-a-whole decide that the Christians were not Jews, after all)

Kathen: "I found this after a little bit of googling. I am sure there is a lot more out there. But I don't want the bit about the present tense (which is evidence of an early date, I agree) to appear without anything said against it."

I found this (following) with a little bit of *thinking* about what I already know, both about the gospel of John, and about human nature. I am sure there is a lot more in there. But I didn’t want the bit about the interpretation of the expulsion from the synagogues (which is actually ambiguous) to appear without anything said against it ---

John 2:18-22 The the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" [that is, drive the money-changers from the Temple]

Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."

The Jews replied, ""It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" But the temple he had spoken of was his body.

After he was raised from the dead, his disciples had recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.


Really now, knowing what human beings are like -- knowing that human beings *like* (and desire and look for) portents and prophesies -- had the gospel been written after 70 AD, would we not expect not merely a comment such as " But the temple he had spoken of was his body", but something more like "And the temple was later destroyed, just as he had foretold; and the temple of his body was raised again in three days, just as he had foretold"

BenYachov said...

>There are people who committ suicide so that they become famous.

But in those cases they control their own death & can make it as painless as possible.

Tortured to death means loss of control and uncertainty.


>Human psychology is complicated thing.
If you can't imagine that people might be willing to die for absurd reasons i don't know what to say to you.

Individual mentally disturbed persons might I would admit be willing to die even unpleasantly but this presupposes the dubious phenomena of "Mass Hysteria".

All the Apostles suffered from this? All those close to him did this and wrote coherent gospels to boot?


But then again are you really assuming naturalistic explanations are implausible or not?

Crude said...

Cases like the one described by this philosopher are endless. There are people who committ suicide so that they become famous. Human psychology is complicated thing.

As Ben pointed out, you're not even dealing with a single person - you're dealing with a group.

Human psychology is complicated, yes. And it's possible that, say... Abraham Lincoln's wife is a fictitious character. I have no doubt you could come up with a whole lot of psychological explanations for why people would think she existed or say she existed despite her really not existing. But I also think people could be forgiven for not taking those explanations very seriously.

Granted, the difference between Lincoln's wife and the resurrection is considerable, to put it mildly. But the point is that the existence of hypothetical psychological explanations for something doesn't really help all that much - especially when the psychological explanations start to get really outlandish. You may as well say Christ's resurrection was a quantum event of some type. Hey, that'd be natural, so clearly it's more plausible than the alternative, right?

Ilíon said...

As I've pointed out here --

"Consider this claim: as I walk along, time -as measured by my wristwatch or my ageing process -slows down. Also, I shrink in the direction of motion. Also, I get more massive. Who has ever witnessed such a thing? It's easy to dismiss it out of hand. Here's another: matter and antimatter are all the time, throughout the universe, being created from nothing. Here's a third: 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. They're all absurd! But the first is a statement of special relativity, and the other two are consequences of quantum mechanics (vacuum fluctuations and barrier tunnelling,* they're called). Like it or not, that's the way the world is. If you insist it's ridiculous, you'll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe.

*The average waiting time per stochastic ooze is much longer than the age of the Universe since the Big Bang. But, however improbable, in principle it might happen tomorrow.
" -- from The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan


And, sometimes, iron axeheads which have flown off their handles and fallen into a pond or river float to the surface. [This is a reference to a miracle of the prophet Elisha, as recorded in II Kings 6:1-7] And, sometimes, the dead bodies of persons who really and truly are dead, rise back to life. [This is a reference to a number of resurrections recorded in both Old and New Testaments, including that of Jesus the Christ.]

HyperEntity111 said...

Ben: Make up your mind. Are the naturalistic explanations (in this case the disciples lied) implausible or not?'

Naturalistic explanations (including that the disciples lied) are more probable than a miracle. I don't have a favoured naturalistic explanation and some naturalistic explanations are more plausible than others. But all naturalistic explanations I've seen so far are more probable than a miracle.


Crude: '' Did the possibility of X, in the course of your moving from Situation 1 to 2, increase? I didn't say 'became overwhelmingly the most likely explanation'. But did it increase?

I think it did. Being completely in the dark about God's motivations, etc, does not change that.''

Sure I'll grant that. But it doesn't increase by much. Unless you think it’s not possible for the evidence Craig et al cite to obtain unless God raised Jesus from the dead, this increase in probability certainly isn’t enough to make us choose that hypothesis over competing naturalistic ones.

HyperEntity111 said...

Ben: ‘’What is the basis of this standard, it's content & how do I know it is the correct one and can any religion meet it?’’

First, it is by no means clear to me that establishing miracles through historical evidence is even possible. For a good explanation of why not, check out these discussion of miracles by John Danaher:

http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/miracles-series-index.html


I especially recommend the posts discussing the papers by Luck and Beaudoin.

If I were convinced that these objections were unsound I guess my standards would probably look something this:

1. Using ordinary historical methods we establish that the facts to be explained are indeed facts

2. We look at different explanations and evaluate them according to general principles of theory selection (e.g. scope, degree of ad hocness, plausibility and coherence with our background beliefs)

3. Methodological naturalism: In cases where a theistic and naturalistic hypothesis explain the data equally well we should pick the naturalistic one.

The history of fraudulent/demonstrably false miracle claims, the incredibly improbable nature of miracle events, the poor track record of theistic/supernatural explanations and the success naturalistic explanations makes 3) quite reasonable. In fact I think there are many miracle reports where Christians would happily choose 3 over the alternative and their refusal to apply it to their own faith seems question begging. Of course, 3) is also flexible: if the alternative to a theistic explanation is an explanation just as miraculous then I think belief in the theistic explanation becomes rationally permissible.

By the way, this actually is the first time I’ve articulated my thoughts on this matter in writing and I’m presenting them to people who disagree with me in order to gain a greater understanding of issues involved. So don’t be surprised if I contradict myself or change my position throughout this debate.

B. Prokop said...

"But all naturalistic explanations ... are more probable than a miracle."

Interesting. Why? I can only attribute this attitude to one of outright rejection of the miraculous altogether. But all you've done there is move the goalposts. In my 61 years (so far), I have yet to see a single coherent explanation as to why we should regard miracles as impossible. All the arguments - every last one of them - can be summed up with something like, "I don't believe in them, therefore they don't occur."

As for probability arguments, I pay no attention to them. To be completely honest, I find them to be stupid. The probability of something having occurred in the past is either one or zero - nothing in between.

Now back to more party prep. 36 people over tomorrow - tons to do.

B. Prokop said...

Thinking about my definition of a miracle, I've tweaked my earlier rough draft a bit (remember, this is how I personally define the term, and what I mean when I use it):

A miracle is a one-time, non-repeatable event initiated by God, relying on no naturalistic chain of cause and effect, and independent of generally observed "laws of nature". All miracles are intended to shed light on the mysteries of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, and must be considered in light of those two events.

If a reported miracle adds nothing to or is in conflict with our understanding of either the Incarnation or the Resurrection, it is almost certainly fraudulent.

So keep in mind that if you ever see me using the term, this is what I mean by it, and nothing else.

HyperEntity111 said...

Suppose you are called by someone who tells you that they are in another city. Five minutes later they knock on your door. You have a choice between two explanations:

1. He lied. He was in the same city as all along.

2. Teleportation! God teleported him! Afterall, if God exists and can do anything. So the probability of this hypothesis has increased!

Now suppose this was in the form of a bet: if you got the wrong answer you would be homeless tomorrow. Honestly, which explanation would you pick?

I think it's obvious what most people would say. It's also obvious that the evidence for the resurrection is much worse than this. We basically have a case where a similar thing is claimed except that we learn about it through contradictory documents written long after the fact.


Generally speaking, the more important a claim is, the higher the burden of proof. If you would pick the naturalistic explanation in this example why reject it in a case where a) the evidence is much worse and b) the stakes are much higher?

Crude said...

Sure I'll grant that. But it doesn't increase by much.

How do you decide that? It's now a live and reasonable possibility in that scenario, up against some pretty outlandish 'naturalistic' possibilities. It'd be one thing if you said that you didn't believe it, or you had other fundamental commitments or intuitions that it was false. But I don't think it works to make flat out 'it doesn't pass the threshold' bar as if you're talking about a rapt, demonstrable standard, when really - the reply seems to be 'I just can't accept that, and I feel strongly.'

Methodological naturalism: In cases where a theistic and naturalistic hypothesis explain the data equally well we should pick the naturalistic one.

That's not methodological naturalism.

the incredibly improbable nature of miracle events

Why are 'miracle events' 'incredibly improbable'? Hell, what do you define a miracle event to even be?

Crude said...

Now suppose this was in the form of a bet: if you got the wrong answer you would be homeless tomorrow. Honestly, which explanation would you pick?

1) I don't think any explanation which appeals to thoughts, intentions, desires or purposeful acts is automatically 'the naturalistic explanation'. It may be an alternative explanation, but 'naturalistic'? Not really.

2) You don't give any background information. Do I know this person well? Do I know their track record? Did they claim they were teleported? Were miraculous events associated with them in the past? Did they have reason to lie, or did they have very good reasons for telling the truth? Etc.

It's also obvious that the evidence for the resurrection is much worse than this.

No, it's not. In fact, it's obvious that the evidence situation is vastly better. We have multiple reports that largely corroborate each other, from people without a good and obvious reason to lie (and plenty of reasons to not lie), from documents written not very long after the fact, etc.

Generally speaking, the more important a claim is, the higher the burden of proof. If you would pick the naturalistic explanation in this example why reject it in a case where a) the evidence is much worse and b) the stakes are much higher?

A is complete bunk, and on B - how are the stakes higher? It can't be because, if say... atheism/naturalism is true, it's very, very important to know it, at least not in any obvious sense. If it's because some other salvific religion is true, alright - then we're going to have to talk about that religion and the evidence for its truth, and compare the two.

B. Prokop said...

"If you would pick the naturalistic explanation in this example why reject it in a case where a) the evidence is much worse and b) the stakes are much higher?"

Just curious, Hyper. What is your naturalistic explanation for the Resurrection? Now remember, you yourself said the stakes were very high here, so don't get this one wrong. Let's hear the high burden of proof for your version of events.

Papalinton said...

"The transcript does, however, expose your whole 'Jim Jones was a Christian!!!' bit as uninformed idiocy."

No. What it does tell us is that no one, no one is immune to the corrosive apocalyptic Johanine doomsday mindset that we have seen played out innumerably over time. One need only to review the accounts, even if only the ones I know about, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, Shoko Asahara, David Koresh, Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambrot to appreciate the common connection to religious behaviour and thought. All seem to have had early lives steeped in religious teachings of one sort or another that impacted wretchedly on their later lives. Not to mention the less malignant forms of religious belief found in the Pat Robertsons and Harold Campings of today's world.

When you read the transcript it demonstrates how one is hopelessly trapped in the vortex of religiosity.

But this entrapment within religion is not restricted to cults. It is an operant paradigm in mainstream religion. This is clear from the testimony of former believers, not only through having to endure the enormous emotional, psychological pressure and even physical threat if one were to admit they no longer believe but also to endure the consequences of abuse, renunciation and rejection by family and community of 'loving Christians'. This has been the overwhelming common experience and narrative of those that have emerged from the Clergy Project. It is a terrible price to pay for one's non-belief.

No. In contemporary society religion is no longer a bona fide binding force for community growth and social progress.

Papalinton said...

"Huh? By whose definition? Certainly not mine. Treading on dangerous ground here, 'cause I'm way too busy today to give this more than a one-draft, no editing response, but my definition of a miracle would be something like, "a one-time non-repeatable event without naturalistic causation that sheds light on the Incarnation and the Resurrection.""

Utter crap. Even Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) understood:

"When miracles are admitted, every scientific explanation is out of the question."

Miracles are not an explanation. They are a denial of explanation.

Crude said...

No. What it does tell us is that no one, no one is immune to the corrosive apocalyptic Johanine doomsday mindset that we have seen played out innumerably over time.

Yeah, that apocalyptic Johanine doomsday mindset that atheists are known for.

You fucked up, Linton. As usual, you parroted without reading or understanding - and this isn't the first time you brought up Jones. He was an atheist. His followers were atheists.

Which not only screws up your use of him as a 'Christian' example, but goes worse: it shows that atheists who are infatuated with political causes (in Jones' case, liberal) are not immune from zealotry, cult-behavior, and more.

So thank you for being my useful dope, and unintentionally backing up my use of the term 'Cult of Gnu'. You belong to a cult, Linton. I don't. One more thing that separates the two of us - you know, aside from your willingness to engage in plagiarism, and my not.

But back I go to ignoring you in favor of talking with Hyper and the rest. But one more time: the lesson here is that you're actually quite slow. You should be quiet, and accept quite a lot of self-doubt about yourself and your beliefs. In fact, chances are these exchanges have already forced you to do exactly that - you simply cannot admit it.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

1. The last ID article I read was well before the Dover trial, probably in 2002 or 2003. I can't recall the article, but the Discovery Institute used to post their fellow's articles on their website. (They, in fact, still do. I just checked--in fact, I just read one ["Blind Evolution or Intelligent Design"] in which Behe followed exactlythe form of argument I attributed to ID theory. He does, however, try to supplement the argument with speculation about how an intelligent designer could account for complex biological phenomenon, like the bacterial flagellum; but he doesn't cite any evidence about what intelligent agents are capable of, unless you take mere speculation as evidence.)

2. I agree with you that the questions of whether or not the universe was designed are not scientific questions. In fact, I never disagreed with you. The thing is, ID has tried to bill itself as science. The fact that I disagree that it is doesn't mean that I consider, say, Jerry Coyne's atheistic scientism to be a valid instance of science. It just means that I don't think ID is science.

3. You've misunderstood Hume's argument. Hume's "attack on analogy" (found in Part II of the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion) leaves the original cause of the universe completely mysterious; it's either a principle that belongs to matter itself (what Philo believes), or it is a principle originating in a completely mysterious, ineffable God (what Demea believes). There may be a designer, according to Philo, but it's not something that we can prove through analogy; if Demea is right, it is completely an accident of faith.

Crude said...

Dan,

I just read one ["Blind Evolution or Intelligent Design"] in which Behe followed exactlythe form of argument I attributed to ID theory.

If this is the article, I fail to see where. You quoted earlier the view that ID arguments proceed on the reasoning that 'If something cannot be explained by modern science, then it is fundamentally beyond explanation, and is therefore the work of a supreme deity.' Behe explicitly argues against the inference, on that point alone, to a supreme deity. He nowhere says that things like the bacterial flagellum are 'fundamentally beyond explanation', nor even beyond Darwinian explanation in principle (he thinks, currently, they ARE beyond explanation), and he makes clear references to the capabilities of intelligent agents in principle.

His arguments may be flawed, they may fail. But I do not see where they took the form you spoke of.

The thing is, ID has tried to bill itself as science. The fact that I disagree that it is doesn't mean that I consider, say, Jerry Coyne's atheistic scientism to be a valid instance of science. It just means that I don't think ID is science.

More agreement - I don't think ID is science, and never defended it as such. I think ID reasoning in some instances may be valid - I do think Behe has made legitimate criticisms - but that doesn't make it science. The problem I have is that many people (not you) will say ID is non-science, but, say... Coyne's ramblings about non-design, etc, are science.

You've misunderstood Hume's argument. Hume's "attack on analogy" (found in Part II of the Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion) leaves the original cause of the universe completely mysterious;

I disagree. Rather, I think that Hume is best interpreted there as arguing that the argument from analogy only gets one to, basically, the ID inference - an intelligent designer or designers of some sort. Maybe the God of Christianity. Maybe deism. Maybe polytheism. Maybe some advanced, powerful beings. The argument ends up sacrificing a lot of the traditional qualities of God - but something still remains.

Papalinton said...

Oh Dear! Crude loses his cool again and in good Christian style resorts to playing the man, not the ball. I guess that is all that can be expected from someone who's cupboard of apologetical fixes is bare.

Crude you know that I know that your commitment to the Christian is based on nothing other than the social inculcation of an origin myth born out of primitive ignorance, and no amount of rationalisation, harmonizing and syncretism is gonna make it any more real or veridical. In fact JM Green has just posted a very insightful overview of the reality of Christian belief. I quote it in full:

"My years in a variety of fundamentalist Christian churches taught me something: despite all claims to the contrary, these Christians do not really believe that their faith would survive if you took it off of life support.
Believers claim to have the spirit of the all-powerful creator of the universe indwelling and empowering them as “new creations in Christ.” Purportedly, the Bible is the living, powerful word of God – “sharper than any two-edged sword.” The believer’s faith is said to be a shield, able to “quench all the fiery darts of the enemy.”

And yet…

There is the need for church services, men’s groups, women's groups, youth groups, Sunday School, seminars, retreats, Vacation Bible Schools, and summer camps. Churches surf the latest trends and shamelessly rip off the popular culture in an attempt to appear to be relevant and hip. Worship songs recycle the same set of concepts and metaphors: God loves me, I love God, Jesus died for me, you are the air I breathe. I’m lost without you - endlessly reinforcing what Christians already claim to believe.
‘Safe’ radio stations provide a constant stream of Bible teaching programs and religiously-themed music. Christian bookstores provide sanitized religious fiction (along with the Bible’s unsanitized fiction), faith-based movies and edited versions of mainstream movies, as well as kitschy Jesus trinkets and home decorations, such as the sickeningly-sweet Thomas Kinkade paintings. You can even dress in Christian clothing, emblazoned with Bible verses, Christian rock band photos, or faith slogans.
Fundamentalist parents consult Christian movie guides so they can know which films to avoid (most of them) and ‘godly’ men install monitoring software which will block porn sites, or rat them out to an accountability partner if they should wander into the red-light district of cyberspace.
Christian organizations and churches constantly seek to use the power of government to show favoritism towards, and enforce their religious views.
All of this betrays a massive lack of confidence in their god and their religion.

If something is vital and alive and thriving, it doesn’t need to live in a sanitized plastic bubble or a climate-controlled greenhouse. A healthy person doesn’t need to be hooked up to a bank of life-support equipment. If an all-powerful god exists, it certainly doesn’t need the kind of assistance that Christians insist on offering.

The very fact that fundamentalist Christianity needs so much coddling and protection is testimony to its falsity. Whether they consciously realize it or not, at some level, Christians suspect that the faith they profess is bullshit. That is why they work so hard to keep it propped up through their own effort"
.

Unfortunately for you Crude, there is no turning back.

HyperEntity111 said...

Crude:

1. I understand MN to be the view that naturalistic explanations should be preferred over supernatural explanations. What do you understand by the term?

2. Regarding how Gospels all corroborate each other: Different reports state that Jesus died on different days at different times. The number of women who found the empty tomb, their identities and what they saw differs depending on the report you read. Mathew says the death of Jesus was accompanied by earthquakes and the walking dead. For some reason, Mark doesn't mention this.

3. Let's go back to my example. Stipulate that this occurs in a country where people with supernatural powers are widely respected but the penalty for lying or being the 'wrong kind' of witch can result in death. They claim that they will teleport and when you find out more about them people tell you that this person is generally known to honest.

Even then I would sooner believe that this person was playing some sort of trick on me. If I heard that story 2000 years later from people who gave such different descriptions of the event as the Gospel authors give, people who only wrote down this stuff years after the event...I think I'd be justified in being even more suspicious.

4. A miracles is a non repeatable counter example to a law of nature that can only be explained by divine intervention. Law of nature is to be understood in a broadly Humean sense.

Papalinton said...

You might want to read J M Green's piece HERE.

Crude said...

Hyper,

1. I understand MN to be the view that naturalistic explanations should be preferred over supernatural explanations. What do you understand by the term?

I think the wikipedia entry comes close enough to the definition I encounter: "Methodological naturalism is concerned not with claims about what exists but with methods of learning what is nature. It is strictly the idea that all scientific endeavors—all hypotheses and events—are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. The genesis of nature, e.g., by an act of God, is not addressed. This second sense of naturalism seeks only to provide a framework within which to conduct the scientific study of the laws of nature."

Regarding how Gospels all corroborate each other: Different reports state that Jesus died on different days at different times.

I think that's pretty easy to dispute, and tends to rely on assumptions about the texts that aren't stated. (Gospel A says X saw Jesus, but Gospel B says Y saw Jesus. But that assumes X and Y were meant to describe the exact same event at the same time with the same detail.) Squaring the relevant parts away is easy enough, and what's left over is pretty minor.

They claim that they will teleport and when you find out more about them people tell you that this person is generally known to honest.

Do I find people who also claimed they were in another city at the time? Is there a grave and obvious penalty for their lying?

Even then I would sooner believe that this person was playing some sort of trick on me

Under what conditions would you accept that they were likely telling the truth?

A miracles is a non repeatable counter example to a law of nature that can only be explained by divine intervention. Law of nature is to be understood in a broadly Humean sense.

Humean laws of nature? :o

I don't subscribe to your view of miracle. I sum it up more as 'the intentional act of an apparently supremely powerful intelligent agent'.

Ilíon said...

That fool, again: "Different reports state that Jesus died on different days at different times."

False, on both accounts; if either were true, one of you free "thinkers" could actually point to the "different reports [that] state that Jesus died on different days at different times", but you can't. You people really ought to learn to do better than relay on copy-and-pasted "Amazing Contradictions in the Bible" posted on "skeptical" sites.

The Gospels say he died on Friday of Passover week (as John puts it, "Now, it was the day of Preparation [for the Sabbath] and the next day was to be a special Sabbath [because it was a Sabbath of Passover week]"). John doesn't give the hour, the other three all say it was at about the ninth hour.

B. Prokop said...

Hyper hasn't come forth with what he thinks actually happened on Easter Sunday, A.D. 33, and Mr. Wilson just punts to various URLs yet can't come up with even one solid piece of evidence for late dating of the Gospels. He pooh-poohs "faith", yet this is the best example of faith-based thinking (using the atheists' own definition) I've ever seen. Talk about projection! What they themselves are doing is believing firmly in something (late dating) with no evidence whatsoever, solely on the basis of authority (citing the URLs of self-styled "biblical scholars"), and impervious to real world evidence that blows their view out of the water.

Linton may be intellectually hopeless (although I do suspect he's quite a decent human being underneath all that incoherent nonsense he clings to), but I do have some hope for Hyper being open to reason. (at least, for now)

Hyper, the reason I'm asking you to come forth with some alternate explanation to a literal Resurrection (since you have stated you don't believe in such)is I'd like a chance to see what the strong and weak points of your thinking are here. I can't hold a conversation with someone who won't say where he stands on an issue.

So, in your view, what actually happened?

Papalinton said...

Sorry to disappoint you Bob, but the god-paradigm is going .... going.... to the backshelves of mythology and folk-lore just as it should do. The shift is palpable particularly in the US at the current time where the average Joe and Jill, having been such late-bloomers, are now following the inexorable trend as has been going on in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, NewZeland etc etc for decades.

Whatever the purported 'facts', 'evidence' and 'proofs' that were once proffered as substantiations of the Christian story, increasingly, more and more people are simply and rightfully unconvinced of the prima facie case for Christianity. This is being experienced at multiple levels of human activity, be at academic, professional level, Biblical Studies and research level, at the historical, anthropological, and archeological level, the legal and jurisprudential level, the civil administration, community and street level.
And of course, what little information has been leaked to the media about the Catholic Church's involvement and cover-up into child-sex abuse coming out of the Royal Commission, much of which has been held in-camera, will be the fatal blow to the credibility of religions, and most particularly the Catholic Church, to continue to function in this country without prescribed legislative and legal caveats into the future. What little information has been gleaned has been shocking, to put a generous tone on the revelations. And more strikingly, the trail leads right into the corridors of the Vatican.

The trend in decreasing religious influence and religiosity is also playing out at various levels; at the mythological/historical/philosophical/scientific level and at the social governance level. People are just not buying into it anymore on both counts. If religion cannot restrain evil, it cannot claim for itself effective power for good.

Papalinton said...

I am a little surprised at Bob's somewhat phobic aversion to URLs [Uniform Resource Locator] as if they were akin a string of sleazy phone numbers scratched into a toilet wall. It is after all the universal means by which evidence, proofs and facts are cited, bibliographic material is communicated or claims are referenced to source material on the net. One can only conclude that refusal to review or peruse them is either signaling laziness to enter into meaningful discussion, or a strategy for closing down any discussion as a means of maintaining control over his exposure to the ever burgeoning research and knowledge base that is rupturing the 'carefully cleaned-up and sanitized story presented by orthodoxy' thereby compromise his cast-in-concrete apologetics.

B. Prokop said...

Absolutely amazing! So yet again, challenged to give even the smallest iota of evidence for late dating, all Mr. Wilson can manage to respond with is yet another barrage of over-the-top content-free verbiage, which somehow despite its many words, dodges the issue entirely. So we are still left with an unsupported act of pure faith (using the atheist's definition of the term, i.e., a belief unsupported by any evidence whatsoever).

Again (I am not going to let you off the hook), why do you believe in the late dating of the Gospels, other than because somebody told you so?

B. Prokop said...

"One can only conclude that refusal to review or peruse [URLs] is either signaling laziness to enter into meaningful discussion" etc.

No, it is laziness to rely on what someone else wrote, and fail to apply it to the topic at hand. You, Mr. Wilson, are well-known on this site for posting to links which often have nothing whatsoever to do with what is under discussion. And even when they do, it is evident to all that you haven't really read or understood them. On many occasions you've linked to material that actually refutes your point of view!

No, if you've got something to say, then say it. Don't be lazy and rely on other peoples' words. Until you yourself give a good, tangible reason for believing in a late dating for the Gospels, I will have to conclude that ya got nothin'!

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

1. I'm by no means an expert on Hume's philosophy, but I can safely say that your interpretation of Hume's "attack on analogy" can't be supported by a reading of the relevant Humean materials. (And I should know by now! I've just read through the relevant portions of: the Dialogues, the Inquiry, my anthology of modern philosophy, the introductory essay of my copy of the Dialogues, by Henry Aiken, and "Epistemology, Semantics, Ontology, and David Hume" by Galen Strawson, each of which confirmed my reading and interpretation of Hume. I thought I was going crazy.) Hume argues that analogy can't get you from the alleged design of nature to a creator.

Dan Gillson said...

2. Behe kicks off his essay by denying that Darwin's theory of evolution accounts for the complexity of life:

"In the Origin of Species, Darwin emphasized that his was a very gradual theory; natural selection had to work by “numerous, successive, slight modifications” to pre-existing structures. However, “irreducibly complex” systems seem quite difficult to explain in gradual terms … irreducibly complex systems are real headaches for natural selection because it is very difficult to envision how they could be put together— that is, without the help of a directing intelligence —by the “numerous, successive, slight modifications” that Darwin insisted upon."

He then goes on to talk about the specific phenomenon of the bacterial flagellum, and how in this case, ID theory supplements evolutionary theory:

"I have written that not only is the flagellum a problem for Darwinism, but that it is better explained as the result of design — deliberate design by an intelligent agent."

He then invokes the argument from analogy (which is discredited by Hume) to justify seeing the flagellum as designed:

"To illustrate how we come to a conclusion of design, let’s look at the following. This is a Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson showing a troop of jungle explorers, and the lead explorer has been strung up and skewered. Now, everyone in this room looks at this cartoon and you immediately realize that the trap was designed. But how do you know that? … You know it’s designed because you see a number of very specific parts acting together to perform a function; you see something like irreducible complexity or specified complexity."

His argument follows the same pattern throughout the essay: deny evolution its dues, supplement evolution with ID theory.

Dan Gillson said...

Here's what the SEP has to say about Hume on the argument from design:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-religion/#ArgDes

HyperEntity111 said...

llion: You know, if you’re older than 11 then you’re a seriously, seriously sad man. You’re incapable of engaging with people who disagree with you without denouncing them as fools or liars. That’s just fucked up. What’s wrong with you? We’re just talking on the internet. Chill out dude.

Crude: ‘’Do I find people who also claimed they were in another city at the time? Is there a grave and obvious penalty for their lying?’’

Sure I’ll grant that the guy has friends who’ll tell you that he was in another city at the time. And the penalty for lying or being involved with ‘witches’ could be imprisonment or death. (There are in fact third world countries where this is actually the case). I’d still sooner believe that I was the victim of some kind of trick.

‘’Under what conditions would you accept that they were likely telling the truth?’’

There a couple of situations where I’d be willing to believe in teleportation. If scientists invented a machine that could do so on demand.

If I sat down with a guy who claimed he could teleport, asked him to teleport to a certain location where I could have eyewitnesses verify his presence, I see him vanish and get a call from a witness telling me that he just appeared out of nowhere and DNA testing reveals him to be same person I just spoke to.

A story where a) the man’s presence in one city at a certain time was verified by video evidence and by multiple independent witnesses who have no reason to lie on his behalf b) suddenly multiple eyewitnesses see him appear out of nowhere c) DNA testing reveals him to be the same person the first group of witnesses saw and d) independent investigations into the man’s history, his contacts, travel plans and the witnesses involved reveals nothing suspicious.

It is clear that nothing like this even remotely possible with the resurrection. What we have is closer to a case where we’re asked to believe in teleportation because a couple of decades after the purported event, a group of friends wrote inconsistent reports claiming to have witnessed it (imagine: yeah he teleported and when it happened the zombies crawled out of the ground, yeah he teleported but I don’t remember seeing the walking dead). And since the reports occurred 2000 ago we have no way of verifying their reports.


4. Humean laws of nature: generalized descriptions of the regular course of events (this seems to be the definition of laws Swinburne uses in his discussion of miracles).

HyperEntity111 said...

Bob posted: ‘’Hyper hasn't come forth with what he thinks actually happened on Easter Sunday, A.D. 33...’’

I don’t know what happened. I do think that there are a range of naturalistic explanations for the events. Even if they are tricky to fit with the historical data they are still more probable than assuming that a miracle occurred. I’ll repost some of those explanations again:

‘’The disciples were mentally ill and were incredible traumatised by Jesus’ death. The entire story was a fantasy concocted to ease their pain.

The disciples (or people they knew) stole the body and they lied about the events.’’

Am I saying that is what actually happened? I don’t know. Do I think this is more probable than a miracle? Yes.

Finally, I’ll say it again: even before discussing the historical evidence we must first establish that historical evidence for miracles is even possible. I’ll repost what I said earlier:

‘’.. it is by no means clear to me that establishing miracles through historical evidence is even possible. For a good explanation of why not, check out these discussion of miracles by John Danaher:

http://philosophicaldisquisitions.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/miracles-series-index.html


I especially recommend the posts discussing the papers by Luck and Beaudoin.’’

It seems to me that our disagreement stems from the fact I regard miracles as extraordinary claims which require an extremely high standard of proof whereas you guys regard miracles as completely ordinary events which require no more evidence than me claiming that I went for a walk. You seem to think that the kind of evidence required to support a historical miracle claim is no different from the evidence required to support any other historical claim. I can only say that I disagree.

Papalinton said...

Bob you know only too well that the early dating of the gospels before the First Jewish War [70CE] is pure speculation. By far the greatest consensus of genuine biblical scholars puts Mark at around 70CE, Mathew and Luke around 80-90CE and John around 100CE.

Whatever view you are spouting on the early dating is spurious at best and simply does not comport with what scant evidence there is. Biblical scholars of far greater intellectual capacity than you or I have arrived at these dates that best accounts for the evidence available. One of the most stupid and classical woo-meister claims for the early dating of Mark is that he "prophesied" the destruction of the Temple. Such a claim by apologists as a substantiation for the earlier dating is pure delusional woo. Any scholar believing prophecy to be a verifiable historical indicator has rocks in their head. They cannot be taken seriously or worthy of being called an historian. Such blatant apologetical claptrap renders their scholarship worthless. Every historian meriting the name should have real trouble with attempting to peddle prophecy as an historical fact.

Anything beyond these dates is sheer apologetical hoop-la.

What we do know as fact is that it was not until 180CE, almost 200 years after the event that the four gospels are mentioned for the very first time, together, as a compendium. In "Against All Heresies" (lll, 11.8) Ireaneus is the first to name the four canonical gospels and outlines the reasons why they were included in the New Testament. During the first two centuries we know for a fact there were 100s of Jesus gospels floating around the Middle East with no clear evidence of the existence of these four as we have them today. We also don't know where they were written and we don't know who wrote them:
""It's important to acknowledge that strictly speaking, the gospels are anonymous." Dr. Craig L. Blomberg, The Case for Christ. [That's theospeak for 'We have absolutely no idea who wrote them'.]

The attribution of names to the four pseudonymous gospels was a later interpolation.

So Bob, your take on the dating of the gospels is tenuous at best, a significantly minority view based on theological conviction only. It does you no good to peddle religious factoids.

Ilíon said...

tha fool, again: "I don’t know what happened. I do think that there are a range of naturalistic explanations for the events. Even if they are tricky to fit with the historical data they are still more probable than assuming that a miracle occurred."

Am I the only one who has ever noticed that "skeptics" seem unable (unless it's just that they're unwilling) to corectly use *any* term related to the processes of logical reasoning?

HyperEntity111 said...

llion posted: ''Am I the only one who has ever noticed that "skeptics" seem unable (unless it's just that they're unwilling) to corectly use *any* term related to the processes of logical reasoning?''

Yes. But I'm not the first to notice that you're a pedantic retard.

Crude said...

Dan,

Hume argues that analogy can't get you from the alleged design of nature to a creator.

[...]

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-religion/#ArgDes

Maybe we're just going to reach an impasse here, but I see your link as only backing up my interpretation of Hume. The entire force of Hume's (well, through his characters) attack is on God being inferred from facts of nature - but neither I nor ID proponents are arguing that ID or analogy gets one to God.

Let me make clear: I have no doubt that, insofar as it's offered, Hume has shown that you can't get from this particular argument from design to God. That's not being questioned by me, and again, not by ID proponents. But that can be accepted, and the ID argument (and the analogical argument) can still go through.

I think what tends to happen here is that the skeptic says 'Oh, well, the argument from analogy doesn't have to be God! It can be (describe a diversity of creator possibilities)!' and the theist is expected to go, 'Oh, right. Well THOSE are pretty terrible. I guess there's no inference here after all.' It's a reflex action, but there's a clear alternative: "Oops. I guess the designer we're inferring doesn't have to be God."

It's also not going to do any damage to the argument or ID to point out that, in principle, this inference is fallible. They concede that too.

His argument follows the same pattern throughout the essay: deny evolution its dues, supplement evolution with ID theory.

I don't think this is a fair rendition. For one thing, 'Deny evolution its dues'? Behe grants evolution its dues - what he denies it is what he argues (and I think not ineffectively) unproven and unwarranted extrapolation, and he argues why the theory, as it stands, has a problem in particular areas. Do EO Wilson or Lynn Margulis 'deny evolution its dues' when they point out inadequacies in the current theory?

I think this is pretty far away from 'it couldn't have evolved, therefore God'. Unless by that you meant such a broad, broad interpretation that absolutely any argument that infers God's design in nature (which necessarily would depart from evolutionary theory) is cashed out as 'it couldn't have evolved, therefore God.'

Crude said...

Hyper,

Sure I’ll grant that the guy has friends who’ll tell you that he was in another city at the time. And the penalty for lying or being involved with ‘witches’ could be imprisonment or death. (There are in fact third world countries where this is actually the case). I’d still sooner believe that I was the victim of some kind of trick.

So, let's get this straight.

You have a friend. He's got a trustworthy track record. He attests that he teleported. He's got reliable witnesses telling you that he teleported. All of these witnesses will be put to death by the state if it turns out they're lying. So will he. If you guess wrong, you're being put to death.

Without blinking or pause, you say he's not telling the truth. That's where we're at?

And since the reports occurred 2000 ago we have no way of verifying their reports.

That brings up an interesting situation. I think your description of the state of the evidence is wildly off-base - you keep talking about 'inconsistencies', but there don't seem to be any, or at least nothing very relevant, the witnesses were close in time, etc, etc - but I want to throw something else at you.

Let's say you got everything you wanted as far as teleportation evidence goes. You're convinced.

How will you convince people, 2000 years later, that you weren't duped?

Humean laws of nature: generalized descriptions of the regular course of events (this seems to be the definition of laws Swinburne uses in his discussion of miracles).

Right, it just seems absurdly weak to me for the usual reasons. (Problems of the single case, etc.)

B. Prokop said...

Now this is just getting tiresome. Mr. Wilson writes, "simply does not comport with what scant evidence there is.", but he gives NONE of said evidence (because it doesn't exist). He's more than demonstrated by now that he hasn't a leg to stand on. It's put up or shut up, Linton. Either let's here some evidence for late dating, or just admit you believe it by faith alone.

Until he comes up with some actual evidence, I'm just going to declare victory and wait for Victor's next topic.

selah

Papalinton said...

Bob, faith is not evidence.

Crude said...

Unless by that you meant such a broad, broad interpretation that absolutely any argument that infers God's design in nature (which necessarily would depart from evolutionary theory) is cashed out as 'it couldn't have evolved, therefore God.'

Correction. Behe doesn't infer God, and explains why, consistent with what I earlier said. I got a bit mixed up there.

B. Prokop said...

Well then, once again, if you've got some evidence, show it! Why do you refuse to do so? (Maybe because you believe in late dating by faith alone?)

Papalinton said...

"Until he comes up with some actual evidence, I'm just going to declare victory and wait for Victor's next topic."

I choose to be guided by the best that biblical scholarship can offer me. For me it is not about winning but to know the truth. Obviously from your statement above you are pursuing a very different cause. I purposely cited a Catholic site [to my chagrin] to demonstrate that the evidence for the later dating is not mine to be conjectured about but from the mainline of biblical research from a Catholic institution.
Boston College is a private Jesuit research university located in the village of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA.

If your somewhat juvenile and unseemly obstinacy prevents you from allowing the best research available to speak for itself then there is little more that I can do. You take a horse to water ......

B. Prokop said...

"I choose to be guided by the best that biblical scholarship can offer me"

Not true, Linton, not true at all. What you choose to "be guided by" are scholars who don't upset your preconceived views. Whenever they challenge them, you label them "aopologists" (as though that is somehow a bad word), and pay no attention to whatever evidence they put forward.

In the meantime, you pretend to know what biblical scholars say, yet seem utterly incapable of producing in your own words (in order to prove you actually understand what they are saying) the smallest shred of actual evidence for late dating of the Gospels.

Come on now, Mr. Wilson. I've lost track of the number of times on this thread I've challenged you to explain why you believe in late dating, yet we have yet to see anything in answer to the very simple question: "What is the evidence for late dating the Gospels?" (and an appeal to authority ain't gonna cut it here)

Your deafening silence forces me to conclude that you do not know why you believe this, other than because someone who does not challenge your worldview says so.

im-skeptical said...

"We walk by faith and not by sight.
Not seeing is different from not having reasons. I have never once seen an electron. I believe they exist. By faith?"

I was hoping someone would step and show that belief in electrons is much more than the kind of faith that theists place in their make-believe god.

Electrons are part of our framework of understanding about how things work in the real world. If there were no electrons, we would need to invent something to take their place that has all the same physical properties of electrons. You see, unlike your god, these properties are not merely imaginary, they are observable, and they are intimately connected to everything in our experience.

Without an understanding of electrons, we'd have no way to explain the covalent or ionic bonding that forms compounds such as H2O - chemistry would revert to alchemy. Without an understanding of electrons, we would never have been able to make electronic devices like field effect transistors, that computers are built upon.

These things are not just a matter of faith. They are an integral part of our whole framework of understanding of physics. Only a philosophist or a scientific ignoramus would think they are merely a matter of faith. No, we actually have evidence.

B. Prokop said...

"Electrons are part of our framework of understanding about how things work in the real world. If there were no electrons, we would need to invent something to take their place that has all the same physical properties of electrons. You see, unlike your god, these properties are not merely imaginary, they are observable, and they are intimately connected to everything in our experience."

How about this version?

"God is essential to our framework of understanding about how things work in the real world. If God did not exist, we would need to invent something to take His place that would be capable of endowing electrons with all the same physical properties that we now observe. You see, unlike your materialism, faith in God is not merely imaginary. It can be verified by reason, and is intimately connected to everything in our experience."

B. Prokop said...

My point, Skep, in my last posting was that what you wrote might be a fine expose of your own thought processes, but it essentially says nothing other than "this is what I think". There's nothing there to cause anyone to reevaluate a possibly differing opinion, no reasoning or evidence to back up what you're opining, no meat to chew on at all - just "Here's the way I see things. If you disagree with me, you're just stupid and delusional." (though admittedly expressed a bit more politely)

Crude said...

In the meantime, you pretend to know what biblical scholars say, yet seem utterly incapable of producing in your own words (in order to prove you actually understand what they are saying) the smallest shred of actual evidence for late dating of the Gospels.

yet seem utterly incapable of producing in your own words (in order to prove you actually understand what they are saying)

in your own words

Mandatory Reminder

As an aside, I find it adorable that Linton claims to have such high respect for the scholarly consensus. I'm sure he regards, say... Jesus Mythicists as unworthy of attention, yes? ;)

B. Prokop said...

Thanks for the timely reminder, Crude.

But more importantly, Mr. Wilson appears to want to believe in late dating, because to do otherwise would threaten to upend his entire Weltanschauung. I find this fear of "the camel's nose" to be quite revealing. Many people on this website have noted the bizarre similarities between literalist, fundamentalist Evangelical Christians and the New Atheists. It's almost like (in some ways) one is the Evil Twin of the other, they share so much in common. One of the chief shared characteristics is the adamantine insistence on not giving a single inch in any exchange of ideas - because their entire worldview is ultimately a house of cards. Knock out one support, and the whole thing falls over.

Linton has not the faintest idea as to why he believes in late dating (as evidenced by his repeated and frankly embarrassing failure to provide the least shred of evidence for it), but he realizes all too well that he must so believe. For to do otherwise opens up the unthinkable possibility that there just "might be something to that Christian nonsense" after all.

Ilíon said...

Prekopf: "Many people on this website have noted the bizarre similarities between literalist, fundamentalist Evangelical Christians and the New Atheists."

Uh, no.

Certain Rah-Rah-Catholic fools have "projected" some of their own behaviors related to shielding some of their more odd beliefs from rational evaluation onto "fundies".

Asserting that “fundies” and Gnus reason (or “reason”) alike doesn’t make it so, and doesn’t make it a “noting”.

Ilíon said...

Prokop: "- just "Here's the way I see things. If you disagree with me, you're just stupid and delusional." (though admittedly expressed a bit more politely)"

You idolators of "civility" and "niceness" are so amusing. I mean, even aside from your hypocrisy about "civility" when *you* decide to be "uncivil".

There is no polite way to say, "Here's the way I see things. If you disagree with me, you're just stupid and delusional" -- there is only saying it directly or saying it in various increasingly less direct ways.

B. Prokop said...

Oh, my! I didn't even say "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice", and yet he appeared anyway!

Papalinton said...

"For to do otherwise opens up the unthinkable possibility that there just "might be something to that Christian nonsense" after all."

Oh I don't think so. The sleeping giant of American reason is slowly awakening: As at March 13, 2013,
Religion Among Americans Hits Low Point, As More People Say They Have No Religious Affiliation: Report

The UC Berkeley and Duke University Report notes: "The number of Americans who claim to have no religious affiliation is the highest it has ever been since data on the subject started being collected in the 1930s, new research has found. ..... The results also echo some of the recent findings the Pew Research Center released in October. The center noted that a third of U.S. adults under the age of 30 don't identify with a religion."

So arguing the finer points of the Christian mytheme seems moot and largely an academic exercise as many are rejecting religion, at least institutional religion in very significant ways in the short term. What is interesting about all this is not that religion is in decline for that is evidenced consistently over time but rather the burden of proof has shifted to those who want to claim that American religiosity is not declining.

The only real difference between God and Zeus is:

God: All followers are alive.
Zeus: All followers are dead.



B. Prokop said...

"Certain Rah-Rah-Catholic fools have "projected" some of their own behaviors related to shielding some of their more odd beliefs from rational evaluation onto "fundies"."

I'm not exactly sure what Ilion means by this syntactically-tortured sentence, but it's clear that he regards Catholic beliefs as "odd". I have no quarrel with that - Christianity is indeed "odd". It has paradox at its very core. "God is three and God is one" in the words of one venerable hymn. Virgin birth, Victory on the Cross, "the last shall be first and the first last", Christ is God and Christ is Man, "the barren woman is the mother of many sons", the bread and the wine are truly the Body and Blood of Our Lord, the Creator of the universe a helpless baby in an (undoubtedly filthy) animal feeding trough (which is what the cute word "manger" means), etc., etc. Catholicism/Christianity is a faith of paradoxes - odd indeed.

B. Prokop said...

So that's your tactic now? You've been caught with no defense for your un-thought-out belief in late dating of the Gospels, unable to dredge up even the least bit of evidence for your stated position, and you punt to "it's all just one of the finer points" strategy.

Pathetic. Admit it, Linton, you have no idea why you believe the Gospels were written after A.D. 70, other than you choose to.

You're squirming because you can't come up with anything to back up your assertions, despite multiple opportunities to do so. The spectacle is frankly embarrassing.

Papalinton said...

Admit it Bob. The weight of biblical scholarship has simply gazzumped your minority report asserting the early dating of the gospels of unknown origin and unknown writers. Only those of the lunatic radical fundamentalist fringe of biblical studies punt for the early dates. It's called apologetical hedging. You have been caught out big-time but haven't the courage or the fortitude to admit you are completely wrong and delusional. I even referenced the very latest of the evidence, updated only in January, 2013 from a Catholic Jesuit higher education research institute, Boston College, to prove how dumb-ass fallacious and misguided the claim is.

As with all things Catholic, if you shut your eyes tightly, put your hands together with your fingers and toes crossed, and intone the magic sayings and spells of the liturgy to the in-dwelling witness of the inner spirit, and repeat it often enough, a miracle for the early dates might just appear. But a warning, don't hold your breath otherwise you will be meeting him sooner than you imagine.

B. Prokop said...

" I even referenced the very latest of the evidence"

I read your link. I wonder if you did, because there's no evidence cited in that link at all - just conclusions, none of which were backed up in any manner at all. So for what must now be the 20th time, why do you believe in late dating? You seem unable to answer a simple question. I don't think you know why you believe in it.

And by the way, I am extremely well-acquainted with Boston College, so you can't use that as a club against me. My wife was and my nephew is a graduate of that institution. My brother-in-law works there today, as assistant to the President of the College. I have attended Christmas services there, as well as other public events. They still try to get me to contribute every so often (as the spouse of an alumna). I subscribe to their monthly magazine. There is little about Boston College that I am unaware of.

Crude said...

This is amusing to watch, I have to admit. I'm sure some evidence to argue the point can be dredged up - but it's pretty clear Linton is unaware of it at this point, and is also afraid of engaging in a discussion of the evidence.

Again, I think it's hilarious he's deploying the 'consensus of scholars' tack when he demonstrably cares far less about it when, say... Jesus mythicism is on the table. Why, it's almost as if his talk about following evidence and faith and the like is complete bullshit.

B. Prokop said...

"Why, it's almost as if"

I'd drop the almost.

Yes, it is rather amusing, for a number of reasons. One big reason is that to be perfectly honest, I care not when the Gospels were written. My Christian faith does not hang by so narrow a thread. I happen to believe on the basis of solid argument and multiple, specific textual evidence that "modern scholarly consensus" (or whatever semantically-null term you wish to use) is quite wrong about late dating... but were they to be PROVEN right, I would laugh off my error and wonder what the fuss was all about.

But for an atheist like Linton, it is absolutely vital that the Gospels be written decades or generations after the event by anonymous compilers and meddling copyists. They can't afford to give an inch on this, because, Like the South after the burning of Atlanta, there's nothing between the Union armies and the sea after the thin crust of their defense has fallen. The argument against the historical veracity of the New Testament is paper thin and vulnerable to complete collapse once any single point is ceded.

I have read volume after volume of skeptical literature on this subject, and still scratch my head at their audacity in declaring so confidently a timeline based on NOTHING provable. It is all conjecture. The most amazing hypothesis is the so-called Q manuscript. Linton has never seen this supposed document - in fact, no one has. No contemporary source ever references it. No Early Church Father quotes from it. No physical copy exists - not a page, not a line, not a single word. There's not a hint that such a thing ever existed until the 19th Century! And yet the great skeptic and rational thinker Mr. Wilson believes by faith alone, not only in the existence of this mythical document, but in its all-consuming importance. Yet he can't even tell you what was in it! Amazing! Such faith I have not found even in Israel!

Papalinton said...

So I take it from your comment that even [Boston College] is lying about the dating of the gospels. The latest dating material peddled by the College [updated Jan 2013] is a lie, according to Bob's own personal belief. Apparently this esteemed institution is teaching material that is known to be a lie, is unfounded, unhistorical and pure conjecture. Well that takes the cake. I just knew it. I knew against my better judgement, to my eternal chagrin, that I should not have cited Boston College. If Bob doesn't have faith his own institutions of research, the College knowingly and intentionally teaching fallacious material, why should I?

What makes it even more farcically hilarious, and demonstrates the delusional nature of Bob's argument, is that the atheist, me, and Boston College are fully in accord on the dating of the gospels. Bob is the feral outlier here, circling with the delusional lunatic fringe at the outer margins of militant fundamentalism as they try so hard, with their eyes shut tight, praying for a miracle, to squeeeeeze the gospels close enough to be a day-to-day running commentary of the life of this insurrectionist clown. This is where the Christian mytheme got it hopelessly wrong in the mistranslation of the oral history. They mistook 'insurrectionst' to be 'resurrectionist'. From there, well, we know the rest of how the mythos evolved .... ;o)

Not only are Christians purveyors of primitive supernatural superstition, they can't even get their facts straight. Why? With the extraordinary degree of syncretism, harmonization and homogenizing necessary for Christian Apologetics to massage the semblance of a story from nothing, facts and evidence are a moving feast. Their use and interpretation are solely depending on the outcome of the presupposition the religiose wish to 'prove'.

From Mark K Bilbo (1961 -), "The very need for a thing called 'apologetics' is example of the weakness of the theistic argument. 'God' always needs apologies, rationalisations, explanations, equivocations, excuses."

B. Prokop said...

And yet he continues to squirm...

Linton, I never breathed a syllable about anyone "lying". Boston College is a fine institution with an awesome football team. But I'm tempted to start using the word against you, unless you stop prevaricating and answer my simple, direct question:

What is the evidence that leads you to believe in late dating for the Gospels?

(crickets)

B. Prokop said...

By the way, I just counted. That was the 15th time where Mr. Wilson has been asked that question on this thread, and zero times that he has answered it (other than by punting to essentially saying, "Well, I was told to believe it").

B. Prokop said...

Oh, and one more thing. To respond to Linton's link to a survey supposedly showing religion on the decline in America (although it actually says no such thing - it merely cites a decline in denominational self-identification), here's one that concludes the exact opposite:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/god-helps-us_740055.html?nopager=1

Papalinton said...

"Again, I think it's hilarious he's deploying the 'consensus of scholars' tack when he demonstrably cares far less about it when, say... Jesus mythicism is on the table. Why, it's almost as if his talk about following evidence and faith and the like is complete bullshit."

This is a most germane point now being explored in earnest. As the tradition of Apologetics is being set aside in higher institutions of biblical research, a fresh look at Christian scholarship over the centuries is identifying many very unhelpful instances of crass self-reporting on and overstating of the evidence, unchecked and widespread confirmation bias, misrepresentations, interpolations, and a catalogue of misinterpretations, all of which collectively, simply do not square with the known facts and historical data of 1st C. Palestine and the purported bible-Jesus character.

With access to the prodigious range and sophistication of forensic and scientific instruments, technologies and processes available to the modern researcher, together with the remarkable advances in research methodologies and the multiple array of investigative techniques that were simply undreamed of half a century ago, the Christian narrative as has been traditionally promulgated is not as it seems. The emergence of the mythicist case as a bona fide historical perspective for understanding the biblical-jesus account is a contemporary phenomenon to be sure, but triggered no less by the advent of these new tools and processes. The extraordinary rise and rise of historical and intellectual skepticism in re-thinking the Christian narrative today, at an intensity and level of scrutiny never before experienced throughout the history of christianity, such re-examining is a direct result of the availability of these tools and forensic procedures. Where there were none, there are currently many more biblical scholars and researchers, and in increasing numbers, that are seriously questioning the veracity of the traditionally accepted narrative.

Funnily enough, Dr Ehrman's stance in support of a genuine real-life non-entity named Jesus, as referenced in his book, 'Did Jesus Exist?', was so badly argued that one of the unintended consequences seems to have resulted in spurring an intense investigation into whether there was an actual person, even if only an insignificant insurrectionist at that.

Christian Apologetics, to put it rather crudely, has shat in its own nest bigtime and the term is now largely recognised as a euphemism for second-rate, non-factual and ahistorical scholarship. Apologists can hide from the truth but they can't make it up anymore.




Papalinton said...

And who wrote the article that Bob cites as evidence for the non-decline of religiosity in the US?
William McKenzie. A columnist for the Dallas Morning News, the conservative rag The Evening Standard Magazine, and moderator of the Texas Faith blog at DallasNews.com.

As a final desperate act to claw back some vestige of credibility, following the debacle of pitting religious lunacy against substantive investigative academic research on the dating of the gospels from Boston College, Bob now resorts to the Fox News equivalent of the popular press and faithheads for his evidence.

Nuff said.

I don't imagine I will make any further comment following this travesty and intellectual void.

B. Prokop said...

"I don't imagine I will make any further comment"

Huh? further comment? You have yet to make even a first comment. Answer the question! (asked now for the 16th time)

B. Prokop said...

The really funny thing is, I actually know several quite compelling arguments for late dating.* It's just that I am also familiar with even more compelling arguments for early dating (defined as prior to A.D. 70).

* But I have no intention of letting Mr. Wilson off the hook - he still can't cite even one). The sad fact is that Linton believes in late dating by faith alone. He cannot articulate why he believes in it.

In fact, I'll up the ante here. Let's hear him give the case for early dating, and then refute it point by point (as I can do with the case for late dating). I'll bet you good Australian money that he doesn't even know those arguments either. What a joke! He affirms one position without having a clue as to why he does so, and rejects another without even knowing what it is!

Ilíon said...

whinny hypocrite : "I'm not exactly sure what Ilion means by this syntactically-tortured sentence, but it's clear that he regards Catholic beliefs as "odd"."

Now, of course, everyone realizes that whinny hypocrites can be found anywhere human beings are found. Still, there do seem to be an awful lot of them amongst American Catholics.

B. Prokop said...

"whinny hypocrite"

Er.. shouldn't that be "whiny"? Or are you comparing me to a horse? If so, do I get to pick the breed?

Ilíon said...

no wool over those eyes: "Er.. shouldn't that be "whiny"? Or are you comparing me to a horse?"

You cracked the code!

Indeed, I was noting (*) that you're a horse's ass!

(*) for the same value of 'note' as you used above.

B. Prokop said...

"Bluuuuu...cher!"

(This will date you, if you get that.)

HyperEntity111 said...

Been busy. Hopefully I'll be able to respond to comments a little faster now.

Crude posted: ‘’ So, let's get this straight. You have a friend. He's got a trustworthy track record. He attests that he teleported. He's got reliable witnesses telling you that he teleported. All of these witnesses will be put to death by the state if it turns out they're lying. So will he. If you guess wrong, you're being put to death. Without blinking or pause, you say he's not telling the truth. That's where we're at?’’

To quote Hume: ‘’When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion. (Hume 1748/2000: 87–88).’’

The situation I described in my example actually occurs all the time. There are third world countries where people who are thought to be witches with magic powers face execution. And yet there are people in these countries who falsely claim to be witches. There are people who claim to perform miracles in parts of the world where ‘witches’ are more respected than doctors. When these people are exposed as frauds their lives are endangered because the families they robbed might try to avenge the death of a loved who fell victim to failed ‘miracle healing’. We live in a world where magicians catch bullets and make the statue of liberty disappear, where TV shows convince ordinary people that the messiah has arrived or that the apocalypse is imminent (see: Darren Brown). There are even TV shows where they prank people into thinking that they’re about to be killed. So yes, I would sooner believe that my friends were playing a prank on me or that they were mistaken than believe that they can teleport. None of this is to say I’d never believe in teleportation: I gave several examples where I’d be willing to change my mind. It is simply to say that we should be sceptical about extraordinary claims.

HyperEntity111 said...

Finally, I’d like to tie all this back to resurrection by noting a few problems and disanalogies. First, you seemed to make it a choice between accepting that your friend is telling the truth or that he is lying. This is false. It is perfectly possible to accept that person is sincere in their claims and accept that they are mistaken.

I’d like to illustrate this point with two examples. The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus (no relation to John Loftus) conducted an experiment where a man pretended to steal something out of a handbag. Shortly afterwards, the women who owned the bag questioned the witnesses and told them that a tape recorder had been stolen. The witnesses proceeded to give extremely detailed descriptions of the tape recorder and the exact manner in which it was stolen. In fact, there was no tape recorder. (Loftus, E.F. (1975). "Leading questions and the eyewitness report". Cognitive Psychology. 7. pp 560–572. This is just one example of how unreliable human memory can be.

A more tragic example (which can be found on the InnocenceProject.org which documents such cases) is the case Ronald Cotton. Cotton was imprisoned after being convicted of rape. He was released about 10 years later when DNA evidence showed him to be not guilty. The victim (who had intensively studied the face of her rapist has he attacked her) identified Cotton as the rapist first in the lineup, then in court and then again in the retrial with the actual rapist present.

It is not likely that the subjects in these experiments lied to make themselves look stupid. It is highly unlikely that.... lied so that her rapist could go free or that all those whose testimony has resulted in similar tragedies intentionally lied so that they could send innocent people to the electric chair. What is more likely is that they sincerely believed what they were saying but got it wrong because of human fallibility. It seems to me probable that a similar happened with the resurrection then to suppose that a miracle occurred.

Secondly, I want to comment on your use of ‘friends’ in that example. Of course, the obvious implication here is ‘Well! I don’t know about you but if one my trustworthy FRIENDS who I’ve known for ages told me that he teleported and he had reliable, trustworthy witnesses backing him up and they’d all die if the were found to be lying...well I don't know about that guy but I would DEFINITELY believe my friends in that situation!’ OK then. That’s all well and good. By including all that background information you’ve made it seem that there’s something immoral in the skeptic's position. But please remember that the disciples are not your trustworthy friends who you’ve known since you were a kid.These people lived 2000 years ago and we know absolutely nothing about them or their reliability. We do not even know if they were entirely sane. So I think we should recognise that are severe disanalogies between ‘if my friends told me about miracle I’d be more inclined to accept it because I can bring out all sorts background information when evaluating their claim’ and ‘if I read that some people who I know nothing about, who lived 2000 years ago so there is no possibility of me knowing anything about them, believe in miracles, I’d be more inclined to believe in miracles’.

HyperEntity111 said...

‘’Let's say you got everything you wanted as far as teleportation evidence goes. You're convinced. How will you convince people, 2000 years later, that you weren't duped?’’

I’m not sure I could. I’m inclined to say that the people involved are rational in accepting it but I’m not sure how you’d go about proving it 2000 years later. I guess it’d be by the kind of method outlined in my post on July 20, 2013 4:09 PM. But even here we’d have stronger evidence than we do for the resurrection.

‘’Right, it just seems absurdly weak to me for the usual reasons. (Problems of the single case, etc.)’’

What do you take laws of nature to be? Are you a necessitarian? Because it seems that would make matters even worse for the proponent of miracles.


Anyway I think at this point it’d be helpful if I summarised how I think the discussion has gone so far.

I presented the standard Humean objection that miracles are extremely improbable given our experience of the world. It is monumentally improbable that the organs, cells, neural pathways and so on spontaneously regenerated, that the particles in Jesus’ body rearranged themselves so that he could come back to life. It is much more probable that the disciples lied or were mistaken.

The response to this objection is that a resurrection is only improbable under naturalism. If theism is true and God is omnipotent then the probability of such an event occurring increases.

My objection is that for the probability to increase enough for you to be able to prove that resurrection occurred you have to add the additional assumption that God wanted to raise Jesus from the dead. This why Licona and Habermas keep using this assumption to prove that the resurrection actually occurred. But how would they know this? What if God did not want to raise Jesus from the dead?

Your reply (as I understand it) was that this doesn’t matter. Suppose it is never observed in the history of the world that person walks on water. Then a father picks up his baby son and walks him across water (to use an example borrowed from Licona). In that case our previous experience would be irrelevant to evaluating this particular case. Now define a miracle as an action performed by omnipotent being.Of course the hypothesis Jesus rose naturally from the dead is improbable. But if an omnipotent God exists it’s no longer improbable-the evidence required to assess the hypothesis God raised Jesus from the dead should be no different to the evidence required to prove that a father walked his son across water.


My problem with this is threefold. First, it is clear that the evidence is consistent with a wide range of miracles. How do you know God raised Jesus from the dead? What if God replaced Jesus’ body with somebody with somebody that looked like Jesus and hid the actual Jesus in another dimension? What if God created a supernatural hallucination in the mind of disciples so that they imagined the whole thing? Why, out of the range of possible miracles God could have performed that would explain the available data, do you select the hypothesis ‘God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead?’ The only reason I can think of that would this hypothesis more probable is if you knew that God wanted to raise Jesus from the dead. But how would you know this?

HyperEntity111 said...

In fact, why assume that the inference to God is a legitimate one? Perhaps Satan pretended to Jesus after he was killed to mislead the disciples. After all, many Christians who believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus also believe in the existence of other powerful supernatural entities such as demons and the devil. Mike Licona, for example, is fond of explaining away the religious experiences of non Christians as the work evil demons. How does he know Satan isn’t the best explanation for what the disciples saw? If you want argue that satan is just a metaphor why can’t you argue that the resurrection is a metaphor too?

Finally, there are many religions/cults which make claims that are incompatible with Christianity. Their followers who claim to have witnessed miracles and their miracles are supported with as much evidence as the resurrection. Clearly all these religions cannot be true. So on what basis do you decide that appealing to God is acceptable in the Christian case but not acceptable in other cases?

B. Prokop said...

Hyper,

I've heard the "2000 years ago" objection before, and I don't understand why that's at all relevant. After all, at some point today is going to be 2000 years in the past. Does that mean that people living then should discount all reports of events from the 21st Century?

Crude said...

To quote Hume

Yeah, this does nothing or me. It basically amounts to 'the odds are always better because I say so'. I'm not saying this position can't be argued for, but that quote gets us nowhere whatsoever.

The situation I described in my example actually occurs all the time. There are third world countries where people who are thought to be witches with magic powers face execution.

So? You don't need to cite supernatural incidents to show that people can be mistaken - there are plenty of natural incidents as well. In fact, there's a tremendous abundance of situations where people accept fallacious, inaccurate, or shoddy explanations for just about anything. I don't find it particularly damning of mundane explanations that this is the case - why should I find it damning of other ones?

You're not going to get anywhere by citing generalities, other than a general endorsement of the idea that evidence should be evaluated carefully. Which, really, I accept anyway. (And 'dismissing out of hand' is not a careful evaluation.)

We live in a world where magicians catch bullets and make the statue of liberty disappear,

We also live in a world that has seen one scientific truth after another upended and discarded, often in some pretty fundamental ways. We live in a world of relativity, quantum physics, simulated worlds (small scale) and more.

But the resurrection gets ruled out because it's just so weird?

First, you seemed to make it a choice between accepting that your friend is telling the truth or that he is lying. This is false. It is perfectly possible to accept that person is sincere in their claims and accept that they are mistaken.

Sure, that's logically possible. He thought he teleported. Everyone thought they saw him in that city. He has a track record for honesty. He has extremely good reason to examine himself for self-doubt.

There comes a point where it becomes pretty reasonable to believe the fantastic, Hyper. I'm suggesting we're getting there with the example you yourself chose, given comparable evidence. To try and say it's a clear-cut 'no' example just doesn't seem very worthy.

Of course, the obvious implication here is ‘

It's not obvious, and it wasn't the implication. You yourself were talking about 'friends' in this context. We were talking about completely hypothetical people here, with qualities I asked you questions about.

I’m not sure I could. I’m inclined to say that the people involved are rational in accepting it but I’m not sure how you’d go about proving it 2000 years later.

Sure, and I think people are prima facie rational to accept various miracle claims centuries after the fact. You apparently don't rule that out, you just disagree based on what seems to me like intuition. And hey, I don't knock that. Intuition is fine when we cop to it.

What do you take laws of nature to be?

"Largely unknown, and partially mapped."

Why, out of the range of possible miracles God could have performed that would explain the available data, do you select the hypothesis

Once we're at the stage of admitting that it's reasonable to believe SOMEthing miraculous took place, I'm quite fine with going with the facts and explanations I have access to. The reason for Christ's resurrection was given by Christ and those who knew Christ - it's not a 100% lock, but it'll do.

Clearly all these religions cannot be true. So on what basis do you decide that appealing to God is acceptable in the Christian case but not acceptable in other cases?

I don't have to deny they witnessed the 'supernatural', by your own standards - I can question their explanations for the 'supernatural'. Second, I don't really believe any religion is entirely wrong. I tend to think they just have various degrees of correctness and accuracy in their doctrines.

The God of the Stoics is no stranger to me.

B. Prokop said...

" I don't really believe any religion is entirely wrong. I tend to think they just have various degrees of correctness and accuracy in their doctrines."

That's been my standard answer to the (all too often) repeated atheist trope about "We're all atheists about Zeus. I just go one God further than you." Utterly ridiculous. For a believer in God, it's No Big Deal to understand that we all have imperfect understandings of His nature, and that some peoples' understanding is less perfect than others'.

So when someone thinks they're scoring a point by asking, "You don't believe in Odin, do you?" I can answer in all truthfulness, "Well, yes I do. I just don't believe everything they say about him."

Walter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HyperEntity111 said...

Crude: ‘’It's not obvious, and it wasn't the implication. You yourself were talking about 'friends' in this context. We were talking about completely hypothetical people here, with qualities I asked you questions about.’’

The point is that in this example you have a good deal of background information about the witnesses which you will allow to evaluate their claims. this is not the case with the witnesses to the resurrection.

‘’Once we're at the stage of admitting that it's reasonable to believe SOMEthing miraculous took place, I'm quite fine with going with the facts and explanations I have access to. The reason for Christ's resurrection was given by Christ and those who knew Christ - it's not a 100% lock, but it'll do.’’

So you admit that there are a range miraculous explanations for the facts surrounding Jesus’ death and that we have no grounds for deciding between the different possibilities. Therefore, picking one possibility as more probable is a matter of faith.

Personally I don’t think we’ve refuted the set of naturalistic explanations or shown them to be more improbable than a resurrection. In a situation where we can’t select between hypothesis I prefer to say that I don’t know.

I also think you’re underestimating the epistemological difficulties that this view creates. It basically destroys our basis for saying Something is more or less probable than something else. Suppose we see elephants in a forest and someone gives a naturalistic explanation for how they got there. Someone can always come along and say that they appeared out thin air 10 minutes before we saw them because God created them. The same reasoning that is used to justify the resurrection can be used to justify any absurd situation.

Crude said...

The point is that in this example you have a good deal of background information about the witnesses which you will allow to evaluate their claims. this is not the case with the witnesses to the resurrection.

I disagree. I think we have a good deal of background information about them.

So you admit that there are a range miraculous explanations for the facts surrounding Jesus’ death and that we have no grounds for deciding between the different possibilities.

No, where did I say anything like that? I explicitly made reference to information I'd use to decide between the possibilities. I simply recognize the sheer logical possibility that I'm wrong. That doesn't matter much in this situation.

The same reasoning that is used to justify the resurrection can be used to justify any absurd situation.

Not at all. It's not as if the resurrection has no evidence in its favor beyond 'one random guy said something'. We have a variety of reports from prima facie trustworthy (very trustworthy, all things being equal) sources, etc.

Also, are you under the impression that 'naturalistic' explanations are necessarily all normal and sane sounding? Last Thursdayism is a 'naturalistic' possibility. Solipsism is a 'naturalistic' possibility. Is it really all that much better if someone says the elephants just popped into existence due to a quantum event?

B. Prokop said...

"The same reasoning that is used to justify the [R]esurrection can be used to justify any absurd situation."

But the really interesting thing is that it is not. No one* is using said reasoning to explain any absurdities. If that were indeed the case, we wouldn't see, for instance, the Catholic Church investigating reports of miraculous occurrences for years and years (sometimes for generations) before ruling on them. And even then, nine times out of ten the ruling is either in the negative or amounts to essentially "maybe". A positive ruling is the rarest of rarities.

Hyper seems to think that people who believe in the Resurrection expect elephants to pop out of thin air at any time. I assure you, we don't.

* Crazies and hopelessly gullible people are not included in my use of "no one" - after all, even atheists and materialists have their fair share of whackos. I'm referring to sane, rational people.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: "Hyper seems to think that people who believe in the Resurrection expect elephants to pop out of thin air at any time. I assure you, we don't."

And that just shows how "anti-science" Christians are! For according 'Science!' fetishists, that's exactly what 'Science!' "shows" can happen

Papalinton said...

"Hyper seems to think that people who believe in the Resurrection expect elephants to pop out of thin air at any time. I assure you, we don't."

But that's the point. People who believe in the Resurrection should expect elephants to pop out of thin air at any time. According to the religiose the resurrection did pop out of thin air. That's the basis of their magical claim. And if that is the claim then there are two very different sets of standards being applied.

From Hinduism:
"Once goddess Parvati, while bathing, created a boy out of the dirt of her body and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. When Shiva, her husband returned, he was surprised to find a stranger denying him access, and struck off the boy's head in rage. Parvati broke down in utter grief and to soothe her, Shiva sent out his squad (gana) to fetch the head of any sleeping being who was facing the north. The company found a sleeping elephant and brought back its severed head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Shiva restored its life and made him the leader (pati) of his troops. Hence his name 'Ganapati' [Ganesha]. Shiva also bestowed a boon that people would worship him and invoke his name before undertaking any venture."

So it seems a resurrected elephant is a real bona fide entity, Ganesha. And we all know its true because it has been recorded in history and handed down for 1000s of years and is believed true by some 1 billion people to this very day.

B. Prokop said...

Linton, this is perhaps the most revealing comment you've ever posted here. It demonstrates perfectly how totally, and perhaps irredeemably, clueless you are. I know I shouldn't be surprised by now, but your inability to grasp even the simplest concepts remains astonishing. You have raised mental density to a true art form!

Crude said...

Bob,

I lost track of the conversation. Can you tell me if Linton has managed to finally give evidence for his beliefs on the question of the dating of the Gospels?

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

Not a syllable of evidence. He believes based on the argument from authority. "These scholars say...", therefore it must be true.

Ilíon said...

some hypocrite (to another): "Linton, this is perhaps the most revealing comment you've ever posted here. It demonstrates perfectly how totally, and perhaps irredeemably, clueless you are. I know I shouldn't be surprised by now, but your inability to grasp even the simplest concepts remains astonishing. You have raised mental density to a true art form!"

But *of course* the Freak-out Sisters are hypocrites. Their objection to me isn't my "god-awful tone", it's that I oppose (and point out) intellectual dishonesty no matter which "side" it's found on.

Dan Gillson said...

Bob and Crude,

I can't say that I expect much more from a hobbyist. I myself have to take many things as true because an authority on the matter says so, e.g., muons. I myself can't produce a shred of evidence for the existence of muons--I couldn't even recapitulate the experiments that produced the evidence for them. But some smart dudes at CERN tell me that they exist, so I believe that they do. (I made dinner for a CERN engineer and his wife about two months ago. I learned a number of things about particle accelerators that I've already unfortunately forgotten.)

But anyways, I'm not sure how the truth of the Christian faith is relative to the date of the Gospels. I've known many Christian academics who have differed on the question of when the Gospels first appeared.

B. Prokop said...

" Their objection to me isn't my "god-awful tone", it's that I oppose (and point out) intellectual dishonesty no matter which "side" it's found on."

No, it's your tone. Full stop. You actually say things quite worthwhile every now and then, but in such a "god-awful" manner that you invite disagreement even where there is none.

Dan Gillson said...

Ilíon wrote, in his little gossip column about me, that he didn't have a penchant for calling people 'girl or 'girlish'. Yet he refers to Bob and Papalinton as "Freak-Out Sisters". Fascinating …

B. Prokop said...

" I'm not sure how the truth of the Christian faith is relative to the date of the Gospels."

It's not. But the "truth" of atheism absolutely depends on a fanatical belief in late dating. As I posted earlier, the anti-Christian narrative is paper thin, and its adherents cannot afford to cede even the most minor point, or their entire house of cards comes crashing down.

But Linton's inability to cite even the most meager scrap of evidence for his belief in late dating is far more serious than your (or my) inability to do the same for muons. Because Mr. Wilson claims to know what he is talking about, and accuses those who disagree with him of being ignorant, delusional, or worse. For him to not be able to defend his beliefs beyond "I was told to believe this" is, in the words of another frequent poster to this site, "intellectual dishonesty" (trademark).

Dan Gillson said...

I suppose that a certain segment of atheism thinks that its truthiness depends on compiling the largest possible negative case against Christianity. (Where's John Loftus when you need him?)

B. Prokop said...

Oh, damn - you said "Beetlejuice", Dan! Now Loftus is going to post a whole topic on this very subject over on Debunking!

Dan Gillson said...

I hope I get mentioned.

Crude said...

Dan,

I myself have to take many things as true because an authority on the matter says so, e.g., muons. I myself can't produce a shred of evidence for the existence of muons--I couldn't even recapitulate the experiments that produced the evidence for them. But some smart dudes at CERN tell me that they exist, so I believe that they do.

Why not simply be agnostic about things you haven't investigated or don't understand?

But more than that, I don't think this is an attack on reliance on authority figures - that's a different subject. The context changes when a person evidently knows nothing about the subject other than a vague awareness of what they think may be a scholarly consensus (and not in a scientific field, even) frantically denounces people who disagree with that perceived consensus (and who are actually aware of the arguments and evidence in favor and against that view) in various negative terms.

If you went around angrily lecturing muon-skeptics that they were some shade of intellectually dishonest/lacking, I think their asking you to actually explain the evidence and rational behind inferring their existence would be fair game in the context of a conversation.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

Philosophically speaking, I don't make much ado about beliefs. They are, in Peirce's words, the demicadences in the musical phrases of thinking. In the case of me believing in muons, I wouldn't even consider my beliefs to be demicadences, but ornaments of the musical phrases of thinking; they're the equivalent of musical fluff.

I understand the point about Linton, but I was moved to pity, or something like it, for him, so I spoke up on his behalf.

Papalinton said...

No Bob. What it does demonstrate is humanity's prodigious capacity to creatively imagine what it is we wish to be true. Revivified and levitating putrescent corpses and xenotransgenic entities are but two of the more interesting surreal mental pictures conjured up by a few billion people who ardently believe as being 'gospel truth' [ ;o) ].

It is inordinately sad in many respects that in the 21st C soothsayers continue the calculated and intentional promulgation of ignorance and unenlightenment. But it is also a very interesting phenomenon that psychology, sociology, psychiatry, anthropology and allied disciplines are now shedding enormously valuable and reasoned light on how and why we behave and function as we do.

Reported in the American Psychology Association publication on recent research:
"That said, most researchers don’t believe that the cognitive tendencies that bias us toward religious belief evolved specifically for thinking about religion. Rather, they likely served other adaptive purposes. For example, because people are quick to believe that someone or something is behind even the most benign experiences, they may perceive the sound of the wind rustling leaves as a potential predator. In evolutionary terms, says Atran, it was probably better for us to mistakenly assume that the wind was a lion than to ignore the rustling and risk death.
But this tendency also set us up to believe in an omnipresent God-like concept. Taken together, it’s easy to see how these cognitive tendencies could allow our minds to create religions built on the idea of supernatural beings that watch over our lives, says Atran, director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris."
Read the rest of it here.




B. Prokop said...

Dan,

Rule Number Two of internet conversations:

Never pity the troll.

(Or is that Rule Number Three? Now that I think of it, isn't Rule Number One "Never mention Hitler" - that is, unless you are actually discussing Hitler?)

HyperEntity111 said...

llion: No. Different probabilities are are attached to various possibilities. It’s possible for the Statue of liberty to dance its way to Africa. It’s just that the probability of such a thing occurring is very small indeed.

Bob posted: ‘’But the really interesting thing is that it is not. No one* is using said reasoning to explain any absurdities. If that were indeed the case, we wouldn't see, for instance, the Catholic Church investigating reports of miraculous occurrences for years and years (sometimes for generations) before ruling on them. And even then, nine times out of ten the ruling is either in the negative or amounts to essentially "maybe". A positive ruling is the rarest of rarities.’’

So the Catholic Church subscribes to a kind of methodological naturalism: where plausible naturalistic explanations can be given for a miracle report they make a judgement about whether it’s more likely that the miracle actually happened or whether people got wrong (or lied). Why doesn’t it apply this view to resurrection when it’s obvious that there are numerous natural explanations for all the facts?

Crude: ‘’I disagree. I think we have a good deal of background information about them.’’

We don’t even know if they were entirely sane. We don’t know what kind of impact Jesus’ death had on their mental well being. We don’t know if they were particularly honest (expect maybe from reports in the Bible itself which isn’t very impressive evidence).

‘’No, where did I say anything like that? I explicitly made reference to information I'd use to decide between the possibilities. I simply recognize the sheer logical possibility that I'm wrong. That doesn't matter much in this situation.’’

The information you’d use to decide between the possibilities is consistent with a vast number of miraculous explanations.

‘’Also, are you under the impression that 'naturalistic' explanations are necessarily all normal and sane sounding? Last Thursdayism is a 'naturalistic' possibility. Solipsism is a 'naturalistic' possibility. Is it really all that much better if someone says the elephants just popped into existence due to a quantum event?’’

Nope. But we can appeal to some general rules of thumb to narrow down plausible explanations from the set of naturalistic explanations. For example, some explanations are more probable than others (e.g. it’s more likely that the elephants escaped from the nearby zoo than that they popped into existence because of a quantum event), that we should not favour explanations that lead us to global skepticism (e.g. Last Thursdayism, solipsism), that we should prefer explanations which cohere with what we already know about the world and don’t introduce unnecessary entities, that bear all the marks of a good explanation (makes sense of all the relevant facts, not ad hoc etc) and so on.


HyperEntity111 said...

Looking back at this discussion I think we’ve reached an impasse. Once you seriously entertain miraculous explanations for something like the resurrection (which is alleged to have occurred 2000 years ago) then we have to seriously entertain miraculous explanations for all sorts of everyday phenomena. You can get round by saying you prefer naturalistic explanations to events where you can get them and I’d agree. I just think there a number of plausible naturalistic explanations which explain the historical facts just as well. I think we don’t have any real basis for deciding between miraculous explanations and so the best thing to say is ‘I don’t know’.

On the hand, the set of naturalistic explanations for any given event is also bound to contain some pretty crazy hypothesis. You can come with various principles to weed out the plausible from the insane but these principles are actually quite arbitrary (I mean really, why is external worldism a better explanation for your experience than solipsism?). And the kind of principles I just outlined could easily be adopted by a theist (e.g. the hypothesis that God tricked the disciples could easily turn into global skepticism and since nobody wants that, we’ll just exclude any such view from the set of plausible theistic explanations).

So I suppose I now admit that it does boil down to intuition. Miracles just seem extremely weird to me and (in my experience) they are supported by very weak evidence. I have a strong preference for non miraculous explanations to miracle reports. It would take a lot of evidence to convince me of a contemporary miracle report and even more to convince me of a historical miracles. But I suppose someone with a different set of intuitions might see things differently. I really only started this debate to see if I could articulate that intuition into something stronger.

B. Prokop said...

"Why doesn’t [the Church] apply this view to resurrection when it’s obvious that there are numerous natural explanations for all the facts?"

Excellent question, which happens to have an excellent answer. Which is: Ever since the First Century, that is exactly the way the Resurrection has been approached by the Church. And the conclusion has always been that none of the naturalistic explanations offered up come even close to explaining what was witnessed by the Apostles. Even using the tools of methodological naturalism, the only reasonable explanation for events is that Christ literally and bodily rose from the dead, appeared to the persons mentioned in the New Testament, and offered convincing proof of His having done so. The Church has testified to this Grand Miracle from its very inception. Give me a good reason for it to stop doing so now, solely on a basis of the passage of time since the event. If it was true then, it remains true now. What has changed, other than the date?

B. Prokop said...

"Why doesn’t [the Church] apply this view to resurrection when it’s obvious that there are numerous natural explanations for all the facts?" (cont.)

One could just as easily ask, "Why do you believe in the "government" account of the events of September 11, 2001, when there are alternative explanations available?" or "Why do you believe that man landed on the moon when I can show you various ways that it could have been a hoax?"

If I were to choose never to accept any account as factual as long as someone could put forward a conflicting narrative, I would never believe anything. Like I said in an earlier posting, at some point we have to choose to not be insane, and accept some things as fact without 100% proof.

Hyper, I asked you earlier in this thread to explain what you believe actually occurred on Easter Sunday of A.D. 33. It's a useful exercise. Don't hide behind, "Well any number of things could have happened." Let's hear what you think DID happen (even if you can't know for certain).

HyperEntity111 said...

I've answered your question dozens of times. I outlined a number of hypothesis which explain the relevant facts. I'm not particularly committed to any of them (except that I think they're more plausible than the resurrection).

Ilíon said...

Me: "Their objection to me isn't my "god-awful tone", it's that I oppose (and point out) intellectual dishonesty no matter which "side" it's found on."

Making_my_point_for_me: "No, it's your tone. Full stop. You actually say things quite worthwhile every now and then, but in such a "god-awful" manner that you invite disagreement even where there is none."

Translation: You don't tickle our ears and stroke our egos, THEREFORE, even though you constantly say worthwhile things, we are justified in acting like a clique of (junior high) girls, and:
1) lying about what you do;
1a) faulting/condemning you for what you don't do that we falsely say you do;
1b) even though we *do* do these things ourselves;
2) faulting/condemning you for what you do, in fact, do;
2a) even though we also do these things ourselves;
3) *disputing* anything you say;
3a) just because;
3b) you'e an ol' meanine!


Goodness! How are you people going to react to Christ? He *also* is not going to tickle your ears and stroke your egos. He *also* is not going to "give you a break" on faulty reasoning. He *also* is going to call you liars and hypocrites when you insist upon engaging in faulty reasoning.

B. Prokop said...

You had me at "junior high girls".

B. Prokop said...

So, Hyper,

Here are the Usual Suspects for "alternate explanations":

A. Women went to wrong tomb.
B. Apostles stole body.
C. Half-dead Jesus revives and walks out before later collapsing.
D. Mass hallucination.
E. Apostles were out-and-out liars. (They knew Jesus was dead, dead, dead, but said he rose anyway.)
F. There never was a Jesus to begin with, and the whole thing is made up.
G. Gradual mythification over time (Gospels being written, under this scenario, generations after the event).
H. Apostles were misunderstood. They never meant "Resurrection" to be taken literally. It was all allegory/symbolism/whatever.
I. Jesus was a space alien who tricked everyone with his super science into thinking he performed miracles. (Variations on this one include time travelers, extra-dimensional universe-hoppers, etc.)

Have I missed any? So which of these do you consider "more probable" than a literal Resurrection?

Ilíon said...

Making_my_point_for_me: "... Because Mr. Wilson claims to know what he is talking about, and accuses those who disagree with him of being ignorant, delusional, or worse. For him to not be able to defend his beliefs beyond "I was told to believe this" is, in the words of another frequent poster to this site, "intellectual dishonesty" (trademark)."

Indeed. It is Linton's behavior that allows one to know that he is intellectually dishonest, that he *will not* reason properly about these matters.

At the same time. your behavior, in general and right here in condemning Linton, is demonstrating *your* hypocrisy, both with respect to morality and with respect to the intellect and reasoning (hypocrisy with respect to reasoning being what 'intellectual dishonesty' is, after all).

Contrary to the lies you people like to spread about me, I do not call anyone intellectually dishonest just for disagreeing with me. When I decide finally to call someone intellectually dishonest, it is because (at a minimun) he has made it clear that he *will not* reason correctly about some matter.

Dan Gillson said...

I wonder if Ilíon notices that the image of Christ he's fashioned is an extension of his own, narcissistic self. (Surely Ilíon wouldn't go so far as to say that it's the other way around, viz., that he is a creature whose image conforms to Christ's, even if the conformity is an approximation.) If such weren't the case, i.e., if Christ weren't merely an extension of Ilíon's desires, Christ wouldn't come to condemn all the very same people whom Ilíon does--unless of course Ilíon wants to go ahead and claim apotheosis for himself.

Dan Gillson said...

CONT: ... and thereby claim for himself that his judgments of others are an extension of Christ's.

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