Thursday, July 22, 2010

The argument from ancient credulity

A popular argument against the New Testament miracle claims is to say that ancient peoples were credulous and would be disinclined to doubt miracle claims in general. Glenn Miller responds, mostly, to Richard Carrier on this point, suggesting that present-day skeptics overrate ancient credulity.

HT: The Infidel Delusion.


Walter said...

We are told that the disciple Thomas showed some sensible skepticism. I would likely believe if I obtained evidence commensurate with what he received.

Alas, people seem just as credulous, nowadays, despite that whole Age of Enlightenment thing.

Blaise Pascal said...

If anything ancient credulity together with the extremely hostile attitude towards Christianity proves that Christ and the Apostles had really convincing evidences of their divine mission.

Blaise Pascal said...

Or else Christianity wouldnt have spread so fast as it did in spite of relentless persecution by the religious and political authorities.

Anonymous said...

We are told that the disciple Thomas showed some sensible skepticism.

Sensible by whose measure? "I won't believe unless He shows up and I can stick my fingers in His wounds!" didn't seem to be portrayed as sensible by the gospel writers, and - considering the evidence Thomas had available to him aside from that - his skepticism always struck me as less than sensible. Believable, perhaps, in the sense of "Yeah, I can picture someone doing that".

Selective skepticism makes typical credulity look benign by comparison.

Walter said...

For the record I believe that the Doubting Thomas incident never happened; it was just a plot device for the author to praise faith without evidence when he has Jesus say, "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Consider this account from Matthew about a post-resurrection encounter with Jesus: Matthew 28:17 And when they saw him,they worshipped him: but some doubted.

Here we have disciples that were supposed to have seen Jesus pull all kinds of magic stunts including raising Lazarus from the dead, yet some of them still doubted. If these guys had trouble believing, then how am I supposed to believe based on anecdotal tales about fantastic miracles that conveniently happened a long time ago, in a land far, far away?

As credulous as most people are even today, I can only imagine it being worse when living during a time period when people believed that every illness was caused by malevolent spirits, and bad weather happened because such and such god was pissed about something.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

So Walter is a Doubting Thomas about the original Doubting Thomas!

Edwardtbabinski said...

If Christianity was based on such convincing evidence why didn't it take Jerusalem by storm? Jerusalem's Jews remained Jewish as did the majority of Galileans.

And why does the story about "doubting Thomas" seem contrived, as if it was invented to demonstrate that it's more blessed to simply believe WITHOUT seeing?

Edwardtbabinski said...

Also see

Glenn Miller’s “Were the Gospel Miracles Invented by the New Testament Authors?”

Reviewed by Robert M. Price