Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mark Shea's defense of the Resurrection

HT: Bob Prokop.

A Catholic blogger defends the Resurrection.


Steven Carr said...

'The difficulties with this are numerous. First of all, they don't act like any cult leaders we know. The records they leave behind do not describe fearless, shiny, happy, faith-filled dynamos of apostolic courage, theological acumen, and intellectual agility. They show us a group of men whose chagrined honesty compelled them to carefully incorporate into the public record the fact that they were snobbish, spiteful, cowardly, factional nitwits who were slow on the uptake, ambitious, blind, selfish, and, when the supreme test came, quite willing to bolt and run in the hour of their Master's terrible trial. '

Oh dear.

The disciples were stupid, blind , selfish nitwits.

This is well summed up by Chris Hallquist when he commented that you have to be Stupid to be a Christian apologist.

There is not even any evidence that Judas or Thomas existed, let alone that Jesus hand picked people who were given the power to raise the dead, saw Moses return from the grave and still had less faith and were even more stupid than the author of this article.

How could those people be given the power to raise the dead, and see Moses return from the grave and still have less faith than Mark Shea, who hasn't even seen Jesus, let alone Moses.

I know.

Christian apologists can call the disciples stupid nitwits, slow on the uptake.

But if anybody compares Christian apologists to these stupid nitwits , then that is a bad thing to do.

Only apologists are allowed to call people stupid....

Even if apologists use arguments that not even the people they themselves call nitwits would be too dumb to use.

Ken said...

Crime: A body of a religious leader is supposedly missing from a tomb.

Disciples claim he rose from the dead.

Their testimony is verbally transmitted and finally written down at least 30 years after the incident.
Some of that testimony is contradictory, especially about supposed post-disappearance appearances by the risen body and the appearance of a young man or angelic beings in shiny clothes at the scene of the crime. As well, there are omissions of important details from one account to the other.

2000 years later the prosecution, having failed to cross-examine the witnesses, produce witnesses of its own or come up with evidence of a body, rests it case.

The jury finds the defendants not guilty.

We have plenty of examples of suicidal cults in modern times. People will martyr themselves or simply die for the lies or delusions of others.

How did Rasputin die? How did Cleopatra die? Was it an asp or could it have been a poisonous oil as both stories were related by Strabo who was actually alive at the time? How, exactly, did President Kennedy die? We have the film of his death!

People were sure they saw a Face on Mars until we had higher resolution photos.

What happens when things are really well-documented, with measurements, recordings, live witness interaction and a thorough, modern investigation? How about the Rendlesham Forest UFO. From Wikipedia: Jenny Randles, who originally brought the case to prominence, wrote an extensive article in her book with David Clarke and Andy Roberts, (The UFOs That Never Were) entitled "Rendle Shame Forest" where she came to the conclusion that "While some puzzles remain, we can probably say that no unearthly craft were seen in Rendlesham Forest. We can also argue with confidence that the main focus of the events was a series of misperceptions of everyday things encountered in less than everyday circumstances."

History is an unfocused, blunt instrument and historians know it.

I'm simply amazed that people can think they can determine what happened based on a 2000 year old account of an incident, but, thinking cautiously, that might be my own stupidity.

Steven Carr said...

Their testimony is verbally transmitted and finally written down at least 30 years after the incident.

No it wasn't.

There is not a bit of evidence that, eg, Thomas existed. He appeared in a Novel ,which cannot be traced or sourced.

Some are so embarrassing to later Christians that they must have originated with Mark as they do not show the results of years of spin that the later Gospels show, let alone the results of decades of spin.

In fact the first Novel laid Christians so open to the charge of grave-robbing that later Novels had to explain that the tomb was guarded.

But if there really had been an empty tomb, Christians would have been hammered for decades with charges of grave-robbing and the first Novel would never have said that the body was left lying around for anybody to get at, if some strong men could be found to roll away the stone.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

To Steven Carr – careful how you use the term “novel”. Literary historians are generally agreed that the first ever novel was The Tale of Genjii by Muasaki Shikibu, written in Japan the 11th Century. In the West, the novel did not make its appearance until Cervantes’ Don Quixote, finished in 1615. So to speak of 1st Century novels is impossible.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

I love how people who are skeptical of the New Testament accounts of the life of Christ are always bringing up the fact that the Gospels were written decades after the events depicted, as though that was somehow evidence of inaccuracy. I fail to see how this is so.

After all, the assassination of JFK occurred almost 50 years ago, yet I can still remember with crystal clear accuracy where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. I can hear the voice of Principal Trexler as he announced the shooting over the school PA system. I can see every detail of my classroom, the desk I was sitting at, and the paper I was working on. (I was actually doodling in the margin, and I can still see that drawing right this instant.) If I were to write an account today of that event, it would be extremely accurate.

Similarly, the first Moon landing occurred more than 40 years ago, yet I remember every detail of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping out onto the lunar surface. It would be easy for me to write a detailed and factual account of what I did that day, even after 4 decades.

These are timespans comparable to the duration between the Resurrection and the Gospels.

So I have a suspicion that, had I witnessed an event as significant as someone being raised from the dead after a brutal public execution, I would be able to precisely recall the event with no trouble at all 50, 60, or even 70 years after the experience, and could record it accurately. The issue of when the Gospels were written down in the form we have them is a red herring.

Steven Carr said...

So the accounts of the second gunman shooting JFK are extremely accurate, because they are written just decades after the event?

And the Gospels must be accurate because they depict the disciples as idiots, who desert Jesus even after being given the power to raise people from the dead and having seen Moses return from the grave?

The disciples had less faith than Mark Shea, despite having 10,000 times more evidence than he has, and having spent 3 years with Jesus...

Not to mention the Gospels having a vast cast of characters that not one single named Christian in the first century ever put his name to a document as having heard of them...

Just how like a Novel can you get?

No Christian will ever produce evidence that Judas existed, no matter how much you taunt and mock them...


Anonymous said...

Carr's problem is that he treats historical conclusions as if they're arrived at deductively when in fact they're arrived at inductively. So, if someone says that the fact that testimony is early counts for its reliability, Carr can point to a counterexample (the second gunman) that only really counts against a deductive argument from proximity in time to reliability, but does next to nothing to an inductive argument that makes the same move. Sure, it's not always the case that early testimony is reliable, but, ceteris paribus, earlier testimony is preferable to later testimony. Or, if someone points out the fact that an account is accurate in its incidental details pertaining to geography, politics, culture, etc. and concludes that this indicates that it's a reliable source in general, Carr can point to a counterexample (Sherlock Holmes) that only really affects a deductive argument that moves from reliability concerning incidental details to overall reliabgility, but does next to nothing to an inductive argument that makes the same move. Sure, an account can be fictional and contain accurate incidental details, but in general, an account that gets the incidental details right is, ceteris paribus, preferrable to one that gets them wrong. This is just one of the reasons why Carr always comes across as so darn confused: he hasn't yet learned to distinguish deduction from induction.

Steven Carr said...

So I see Eric produces a long waste of time post, and cannot explain why not a single Christian in the first century ever put his name on a document which stated that he had heard of Judas, Thomas, Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Joanna, Salome, Bartimaeus, Simon of Cyrene, etc etc.

All he can do is claim that his 'testimony' is as early as the testimony that a second gunman shot JFK and that somehow this is meaningful when obviously it is not.

Why not produce some stinking evidence?

You have had 2000 years to find some.

Anonymous said...

"So I see Eric produces a long waste of time post, and cannot explain why not a single Christian in the first century ever put his name on a document which stated that he had heard of Judas, Thomas, Joseph of Arimathea, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Joanna, Salome, Bartimaeus, Simon of Cyrene, etc etc."

But Carr, surely you've read fiction written in the first person; does it follow that because the author's name is on the document the fictional characters he claimed to have encountered actually existed?

See, your sloppy technique of confusing deduction and induction is easily applied to your own examples.

Steven Carr said...

So Eric can no more produce a person who saw Judas than Mormons can produce a person who saw the Angel Moroni.

No wonder the world is in such a mess when human beings are so determined never to find evidence for what they believe.

Anonymous said...

Eric is a breath of fresh air. How I wish people would think that clearly.

Anonymous said...

Carr, here's a simple question:

Suppose you're a historian, and you specialize in the study of Alexander the Great. Two manuscripts -- A and B -- are found, both of which provide an account of the same incident in Alexander's life, an incident historians know next to nothing about, and about which A and B provide a host of new details. The problem is, A and B have substantial disagreements about just what happened.

Now suppose you know that A was written within sixty years of the event it discusses, and contains incidental details about geography, politics and culture that are almost all correct, while B was written two hundred and fifty years after the event, and gets many of the incidental details wrong.

Okay, here's the question: Which document is more likely to provide the more accurate account of that event in Alexander's life, A or B?

Steven Carr said...

'Which document is more likely to provide the more accurate account of that event in Alexander's life, A or B?'

We wouldn't know until we knew what the sources for A and B were, and how well the authors checked their sources for accuracy.

Or else we would all today be reading 'The Hitler Diaries' and the second gunman hypothesis would be taught in schools :-)

By the way, when was 1 and 2 Kings written? More than 250 years after the incidents it relates?

I take it you cannot find a single Christian from the first century who put his name to a document saying he had heard of Judas, Thomas, Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene etc etc.

All you have are unprovenanced , anonymous works, which plagiarise each other and the Old Testament, have a vast cast of characters that not even Christians spoke about and are indistinguishable from Novels.

They look just like all religious works - like frauds as my article shows

Even Paul in his time was complaining about people following a different Jesus to him.

Religions produce frauds and lies. That is the nature of the beast.

But thank you for playing and you are welcome to the consolation prize of disappointment for having believed in something that there is no evidence for.

Anonymous said...

"We wouldn't know until we knew what the sources for A and B were, and how well the authors checked their sources for accuracy."

But Carr, what about the sources themselves? Wouldn't it follow, given your criteria, that we'd need to know *their* authors and *their* sources? And what about that new set of sources, and so on, ad infinitum?

You remind me of the professor who tried to define physics in terms of what physicists do. When he was asked about how in such a case their could be a first physicist, he bit the bullet and replied, "There was no first physicist."

Will you bite the bullet and reply that the study of history is impossible, since we can never trace our sources 'all the way down'?

Now besides all that, there's a further problem with your response: You've just failed thought experiments 101. A thought experiment *isolates* conceptual variables so we can test their implications and limits more easily. In the example I provided, the variables I isolated were, with the respect to ancient or classical sources, "proximity in time to the event described" and "general accuracy about incidental details." You ignored this and introduced additional variables in an obvious attempt to avoid answering the question. The simple truth is this: we all know that, all things being equal, an early document with accurate incidental details is preferable to a later document with inaccurate incidental details. The fact that you can't even admit this much shows, in my humble opinion, that you're easily as dogmatic as the fundamentalists you despise.

Anonymous said...


When he was asked about how in such a case there* could be a first physicist,

normajean said...


When Craig debated Bart Ehrman, Ehrman attempted to undermine the historical validity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ with something like the following:

P1. Historians affirm what probably occurred in the past.

P2. Miracles are improbable.

C. Therefore, the resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be historically affirmed.

Carr probably agrees w/ Ehrman. I wonder what it will take to break through that nagging presupposition, or perhaps P2?