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Friday, December 17, 2010

A Response to 'Michadelic‏'

"The earliest gospel narrative is 40 years removed from the events.

I think the problem with the conservative/fundamentalist mindset here is that there really is no reason to believe that the gospels are factual accounts *unless* you are already predisposed to such a belief. But then, one is merely bolstering an assumption that fundamentally has nothing to do with objective evidence anyway. Evidence and objectivity become merely an appendix. There are plenty of writings and claims that Christians dismiss as irrelevant without ever investigating the value of those claims. For instance, how many Christians will spend their time pouring over the Book of Mormon or Koran? This is only natural and reasonable - we could spend our entire lives investigating claim after claim and never get on with actually living. It is enough (it has to be!) to weigh a claim against the background of the world as we know and experience it, and to either accept it or dismiss it as baseless or irrelevant. Muslims and Christians sound virtually identical in their apologetics, the names are changed and in each one the other party is condemned to hell. The problem is not which book is right or which one has the best 'evidence', the problem is in the entire expectation that God literally writes books. 'The whole head is sick', you might say. The whole paradigm is irrelevant.

A mature spiritual practice is fine with the role of myth and doesn't get hung up on matters of historical objectivity. It's not about that at all - and if the Christian narrative offers any truth, its truth will be true regardless of its historical objectivity. The US population has been in dialogue with other religions now for 60 years, and a great opportunity to benefit from that exchange is still being missed by most people, who would rather live in their cultural-religious shells. It really is a tragedy." Michadelic


The above was posted on Justin Vacula's intellectually vapid playground that he generously refers to as a "blog" in response to a comment that I posted there. I would first like to take issue with the opening statement "The earliest gospel narrative is 40 years removed from the events."


One of the primary reasons often cited by skeptics when arguing for a later late for the gospels is the prediction by Jesus of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem which did not occur until after His crucifixion and was ultimately destroyed in 70 A.D. (See Mark, Chapter 13) Such argumentation presupposes that Jesus did not make such an accurate prediction and ignores the following point. If something like Jesus' prediction was being reported after the event, then why isn't it reported as such? For example, why doesn't the gospel of Mark state something along the lines of "Jesus predicted that the temple would be destroyed and just like he said, it surely was"? The narrative does not frame the prediction as such and thus provides evidence for an earlier date. If you were referring to other points raised by skeptics that argue for a later date, then feel free to list them here.

Another point that you raise is "The whole head is sick', you might say. The whole paradigm is irrelevant." I would suggest that when investigating the historicity of claims made by the Bible, that such claims are analyzed through the lense of a historian, not a logician. When one begins with the mindset that once something if found to be false, then the entire statement (or in this case, belief system) is false it misses the larger point. When dealing with historical documents from various witnesses, yes, the accounts can differ. One of the great things about apologetics is that many of these inconsistencies HAVE been harmonized and there indeed are explanations should anyone like to seek them out with anything other than a mind that is completely closed.


Lastly, you bring up for comparison the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Koran. I don't doubt that many Christians haven't poured over those other books that you cite and perhaps they should. However, in light of the fact that NOTHING from the Book of Mormon concerning the concept of 'Ancient America' has ever been verified by the Smithsonian Institute or any reputable historian for that matter, could one blame them for not trying? The Bible, in comparison, is rife with archeologically verifiable facts and thus it's practically a non-starter to compare the two.



This is before we get into analyzing another 'holy book' of the accounts of a certain pederast that sold women and children into slavery and led troops into battle and is held up as comparable to the teachings of Jesus. It just doesn't make sense from the get-go.

I hope that you have a Merry Christmas and a properous New Year.

63 comments:

Theological Discourse said...

40 years removed from the event but still within the lifetime of the people that witnessed the event. When an atheist says "The earliest gospel is X years removed from the actual event!" they are basically saying "I don't know my early church history."

JD Curtis said...

Right TD.

Another hurdle to overcome for those that argue for later dating of the gospels is the fact that Luke makes mention of Paul's imprisionment in the Book of Acts but doesn't state that he's dead. If Paul was imprisioned and executed say, between 65-67 A.D. and the Luke's gospel predates the Book of Acts, then how can they argue for later dating?

Ross said...

Nice rebuttal, JD. I tip my hat to you.

JD Curtis said...

Thanks Ross.

It just so happens that I came across yet another solid argument in favor of early dating of the gospels. This 8 minute video is a valuable resource.

It argues the following...

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

If Paul was imprisoned and executed in the 60's and his ministry when this letter was written was during the 50's, when were the Scriptures he refers to (that apparently were already written by this time) dated to? The 40's? The 30's perhaps?

michadelic said...

I'm not very concerned with the differences of the so-called witnesses. It seems fairly obvious that the synoptics draw from the same source material. As far as the actual claims of the gospels go, the skills of a logician are very much needed. Historians use logic in that they work with probabilities and theories to reconstruct events. What no historian has ever done is revealed what "actually" happened those 2,000 years ago, because that would require access to information long gone. My larger point was that it shouldn't matter. It is such a peculiar thing that 'faith' should be about being certain about intrinsically dubious claims.

There is no reason, other than a purely theological bias, why one would subscribe to a supernatural explanation of how the early church got its beginnings. For fundamentalist Christians, a similar bias is absent with regard to any other religious claims. Fundamentally, there is no reason why one is moved to accept the Christian historical claims, other than a faith-commitment. Evidence, as I noted, is an appendix to that commitment.

("Theological bias" isn't necessarily bad, in that it is an interpretive framework, so long as it is acknowledged that that is what it is. Then that "bias" has the freedom to deal creatively with the issues, questions, and themes it raises beyond squabbling about 'objective factuality')

You may want to cite Christian historians whose reconstructions support their presuppositions, I can also cite historians of the same caliber whose presuppositions lie elsewhere and whose reconstructions are just as plausible (and I would say more so). The fact is that most historians, even Christian ones, will not place an early date for the gospels.

As far as 70AD goes, even if you want to attribute that to an early prediction going back to Jesus (which is of course highly questionable) you still have to deal with everything in the prediction that didn't happen, like the second coming. And yes, I am familiar with the preterist interpretation, which fails under scrutiny.

As far as Paul goes, where was he quoting from the gospels? Why were the scriptures he refers to the gospels?

I will restate the point that no historian has ever revealed what "actually" happened. Nobody actually knows. Most people - about most other historical oddities - would be fine with that, or not go beyond speculation. There's no pressing reason why one should assume any beyond a natural explanation. But because so many have a vested interest in claiming certainty about these events, we are here now debating about it.
(cont.)

michadelic said...

And even though nobody 'knows', I would say that some historians have done a better job at reconstructing those events than others, and by this I mean reconstructing events that make sense in light of the rest of our knowledge of history, psychology, and the world. I'm not a historian (and I assume that neither are you), but I have read the conclusions of many historians who disagree on very solid grounds with the claims of those who would paint the Christian narrative as objective history, and especially with those who would do so under the pretense of certainty.

If we were to take the claims of the early Christians literally, we should believe that the second coming happened round about the first century.

When it comes to faith, spirituality, and religious practice, we ought to be focusing on existential issues, not getting absorbed in debates over whether supposed event X really happened or not. That could go on forever, and no one would ever be better off for it, and a spirituality that gets hung up on that is a dreadful thing indeed. The sooner Christians become OK with the role of myth in their faith, the better. Myth is not a bad thing; it forms a large part of what it means to be human. But in our scientifically trained world, it is no longer feasible to join the mythic with the historical. Intellectually it behooves us to be more responsible. In so doing we may get a better understanding of both history and myth.

Peace and Merry Christmas,
Mike

Theological Discourse said...

[quote]
There is no reason, other than a purely theological bias, why one would subscribe to a supernatural explanation of how the early church got its beginnings.
[/quote]
Define 'theological bias,' please. Furthermore you state that the skills of a logician are needed, well logic doesn't start with the presupposition of "the supernatural doesn't exist."
[quote]
For fundamentalist Christians, a similar bias is absent with regard to any other religious claims. Fundamentally, there is no reason why one is moved to accept the Christian historical claims, other than a faith-commitment. Evidence, as I noted, is an appendix to that commitment.
[/quote]
Speak for yourself. I have no problem with other religions having a supernatural explanation for their beginning. Other gods and or demons are often mentioned throughout scripture.

[quote]
You may want to cite Christian historians whose reconstructions support their presuppositions, I can also cite historians of the same caliber whose presuppositions lie elsewhere and whose reconstructions are just as plausible (and I would say more so). The fact is that most historians, even Christian ones, will not place an early date for the gospels.
[/QUOTE]
Battle of the appeals to authority. My historians opinion on X is better than your historians opinion on X! This type of pokemon debate is pretty useless, which is why I cut out the middle man. All historians draw from the same evidence anyway.
[quote]
As far as 70AD goes, even if you want to attribute that to an early prediction going back to Jesus (which is of course highly questionable) you still have to deal with everything in the prediction that didn't happen, like the second coming. And yes, I am familiar with the preterist interpretation, which fails under scrutiny.
[/quote]
Please show me the evidence for the assertion that the prediction was supposed to be in the first century and why that is the only valid interpretation of the scripture?

[quote]
As far as Paul goes, where was he quoting from the gospels? Why were the scriptures he refers to the gospels?
[/quote]
Doesn't paul quote Luke 10:7?
Did Paul refer to them as Gospels? Looks to me he refers to them as scripture.

Theological Discourse said...

[quote]
I will restate the point that no historian has ever revealed what "actually" happened. Nobody actually knows. Most people - about most other historical oddities - would be fine with that, or not go beyond speculation. There's no pressing reason why one should assume any beyond a natural explanation. But because so many have a vested interest in claiming certainty about these events, we are here now debating about it.
[/quote]
Starting with the presupposition of excluding the supernatural because you and the group of people whom you agree with decided the evidence is not up to par, is illogical.

[quote]
And even though nobody 'knows', I would say that some historians have done a better job at reconstructing those events than others, and by this I mean reconstructing events that make sense in light of the rest of our knowledge of history, psychology, and the world.
[/quote]
I doubt these historians are reconstructing events that make sense in the light of our knowledge of history, psychology, and the world. I am pretty sure those historians you're speaking of disregard all of the anecdotal, documentary and historical evidence of the supernatural, therefore completely ignoring a good portion of the world.

[quote]
I'm not a historian (and I assume that neither are you), but I have read the conclusions of many historians who disagree on very solid grounds with the claims of those who would paint the Christian narrative as objective history, and especially with those who would do so under the pretense of certainty.
[/quote]
And I've read the conclusions of many historians who paint the Christian narrative as objective history who disagree on very solid grounds with claims of your historians. Again, this pokemon battling of historians accomplishes nothing since all of the historians are viewing the same evidence.

[quote]
If we were to take the claims of the early Christians literally, we should believe that the second coming happened round about the first century.
[/quote]
Evidence plox!

[quote]
When it comes to faith, spirituality, and religious practice, we ought to be focusing on existential issues, not getting absorbed in debates over whether supposed event X really happened or not. That could go on forever, and no one would ever be better off for it, and a spirituality that gets hung up on that is a dreadful thing indeed. The sooner Christians become OK with the role of myth in their faith, the better. Myth is not a bad thing; it forms a large part of what it means to be human. But in our scientifically trained world, it is no longer feasible to join the mythic with the historical. Intellectually it behooves us to be more responsible. In so doing we may get a better understanding of both history and myth.
[/quote]
I agree, it is not feasible to join the mythic with the historical so as soon as you provide sufficient evidence they are myths to begin with we can go from there.

Froggie said...

"This is before we get into analyzing another 'holy book' of the accounts of a certain pederast that sold women and children into slavery and led troops into battle and is held up as comparable to the teachings of Jesus."

Kinda like Jesus (as God) did when he ordered the genocide of the Amelkites and et- kill every living thing except take the virgins for yourselves.

Yup- same God.

JD Curtis said...

Kinda like Jesus (as God) did when he ordered the genocide of the Amelkites

Did the God of the Bible coddle pedophiles or are you making an apple to oranges comparison?

Direct question Froggie.

If, for instance, God had instead decided to eliminate the Amelkites via Fire and Brimstone, would you feel any better about it?

michadelic said...

TheologicalDiscourse,

""Define 'theological bias,' please. Furthermore you state that the skills of a logician are needed, well logic doesn't start with the presupposition of "the supernatural doesn't exist.""

You're right. But logic would drive one to seek an explanation that best fits with what we know about the world.

""Starting with the presupposition of excluding the supernatural because you and the group of people whom you agree with decided the evidence is not up to par, is illogical.""

If the evidence is not up to par, then the conclusion is not illogical. Perhaps you should rephrase this.

""Please show me the evidence for the assertion that the prediction was supposed to be in the first century and why that is the only valid interpretation of the scripture?""

Perchance have you read the New Testament? It is painfully obvious that the authors of those documents expected the end of the world within their generation, and I could quote a multitude of passages from every single letter and book demonstrating this. Pretending that this is not so won't do anything toward changing the texts.

""Doesn't paul quote Luke 10:7?""

This is questionable. 1Tim5.18, "the worker earns his pay." It's not much. But even if we grant that this verse is an actual quotation from Luke 10:7 (and that, as scripture), there is the fact that 1Timothy is commonly not accepted as an authentic Pauline document.

""This type of pokemon debate is pretty useless, which is why I cut out the middle man. All historians draw from the same evidence anyway.""

""I agree, it is not feasible to join the mythic with the historical so as soon as you provide sufficient evidence they are myths to begin with we can go from there.""

If that's the way you'd like to play it, then I'd point out that you've got this whole thing backwards. I'm sure you've already been told this countless times, but the burden of proof lay with you. I must admit that your openness to the supernatural inspiration of other religions is interesting, and ultimately self-negating (taking the battle of appeals to authority into the realm of the gods).

So go ahead, then, if you're cutting out the middle man. Convince me. What is the best piece of evidence you have. Let me (and everyone who may frequent this blog) know what your faith rests upon. Let us in on the secret of your absolute certainty.

I would further stress that ruling out the possibility of any kind of supernatural event is not my goal. My argument would be, as the saying goes, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. TD, you are in a tight spot. No matter what, all you or I or anyone have to go on about an ambiguous event 2,000 years ago is speculation. But your position demands that you conflate speculation to certainty, and then go day-to-day as if nothing in the world challenges that "certainty" (like over 150 years of critical biblical scholarship). What a dreadful place to be.

Peace,
Mike

Froggie said...

"Did the God of the Bible coddle pedophiles or are you making an apple to oranges comparison?

Direct question Froggie."

Since it was common for girls to get married at the onset of puberty in ancient times, it is obvious that girls classified as virgins would be very young.

The Catholic Apologist said...

The earliest Gospel Narratives might be for years removed from the events, depending on how you date them.

Liberal Scripture scholars want to date the narratives between 70 (Mark) to 100 AD (John) 80 (Matthew and Luke.) More conservative Scripture scholars would date the Gospels earlier, though I am not sure specifically how much earlier. I think their numbers range from 60-70.

Either way, there is at least a 15-20 year gap between the writtings and the event itself, even if we agree that the first of Paul's letters appeared around 50 AD.

I think this is all well and good to research, but this should not cause a Christian concern. For starters, no matter whether Gospels are later or earlier, they were all written during the life times of the apostles, and the eye wittnesses themselves. Even IF we grant "legend" crept in, when the eyewitnesses themselves are still alive, I think the main points remain in tact, even if the details are forgotten. After all- how could you get wrong a resurrection, curing the blind, raising the dead, etc. You might forget who, or where, or when, but the main idea is kept intact.

In the second place, if God exists, and if the Christian God is the God of the Bible- then the Bible is true. (Period.)All the concerns of "contradictions" or "late dating" or "inaccuracies" become irrelavent.

The Catholic Apologist said...

Michaeldic,

"You're right. But logic would drive one to seek an explanation that best fits with what we know about the world."

Right- and what do we know about the world? What does Science assume? The nature is ordered, that things happen for a reason. We know that in the material world, everything is an effect of something else, therefore the universe must have been effected- that the universe did not cause itself.

Those who hold to "multiverse" inadvertently prove theists right when they say "The universe cannot cause itself" becasue multiverse seeks to explain the "cause" of the universe by appealing to other effects. Multiverse as a theory might be true, but all it does is push the question of why there is something as opposed to nothing back. It dosen't answer the ultimate question: "Why is there something?"

Scientists know that logic dicates something cannot come from nothing. They also know that logic dictates that there are reasons for things.

JD Curtis said...

Froggie, we are getting off-topic here on a thread that deals more with the accuracy and dating of the New Testament rather than falling into the athest pitfall of God Commands Rape (and child rape no less). Such arguments are usually raised by the more militant of your brethren and speaks more to where their minds are at rather than an accurate interpretation of scripture. The True Free Thinker addressed this a long time ago and I suggest that you take it up with him. Link

JD Curtis said...

Insofar as whether the span of 40 years is significant or not, first, I don't accept for a moment that they are that aold and both Gary Habermas and William Lane Craig mention Bible scholars that place Mark within months of the crucifixion.

However, even if the 40 year gap was somehow true, that is a mere blink of the historical eye when once considers that "The two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arian and Plutarch. They were written more than 400 years after Alexander's death in 323 B.C. Historians consider these biographies reliable." Link with other examples

Theological Discourse said...

You're right. But logic would drive one to seek an explanation that best fits with what we know about the world.

First off I asked you to define 'theological bias.' Please do so.
Secondly an explanation that best fits with what we know about the world is not "the supernatural does not exist." Given the fact that there is an abundance of anecdotal, documentary and historical evidence throughout human history of the supernatural, an explanation that best fits with what we know about the world should include the supernatural.



If the evidence is not up to par, then the conclusion is not illogical. Perhaps you should rephrase this.

Read what I said again. The evidence is not up to par according to you and the people whose views you agree with. You and the people whos views you agree with do not solely get to define the quality of evidence. In other words one groups view of the evidence is hardly the defining factor of how everyone should view the evidence. nor is it the defining factor on how the evidence is best viewed. You seem to think that just because a group of skeptics aren't convinced by the evidence than the evidence isn't convincing, which is illogical.


Perchance have you read the New Testament? It is painfully obvious that the authors of those documents expected the end of the world within their generation, and I could quote a multitude of passages from every single letter and book demonstrating this. Pretending that this is not so won't do anything toward changing the texts.

I've read the New Testament. The fact that the 'authors'(please define authors, I assume you meant disciples) didn't understand what Jesus was saying in regards to the 2nd coming is hardly evidence that the 2nd coming was actually supposed to occur within their generation. You are making an error of logic in assuming the correct meaning of certain scriptures lies solely with the disciples understanding, ESPECIALLY since the New Testament is rife with examples of the disciples not understanding what Jesus said. Mark 8:14-21 clearly shows the disciples not understanding something Jesus did. John 6:60-66 shows some of the disciples not understanding what Jesus meant when He said He was the Bread of Life. Matthew 15:15-16 again shows the disciples not understanding something. Saying 'it is obvious that the 2nd coming was supposed to be within their life times because that is how the disciples understood it,' is a huge error of logic since there are many examples of the disciples not understanding what Jesus was saying and thus attempting to determine what Jesus really meant based off of how the disciples understood Him is like attempting to determine what a rapper means in a song based off of how someone who doesn't understand the culture of hiphop understands him.

Theological Discourse said...

This is questionable. 1Tim5.18, "the worker earns his pay." It's not much. But even if we grant that this verse is an actual quotation from Luke 10:7 (and that, as scripture), there is the fact that 1Timothy is commonly not accepted as an authentic Pauline document.

Questionable to whom? 1Timonthy is not commonly accepted as an authentic Pauline document according to whom? to the historians YOU agree with or to the historians the fundy Christians agree with? to the historians the moderate Christians agree with? there you go again trying to battle historians like pokemon. Funny how you skeptic types seem to think "questionable" and "its being debated" is synonymous with "flat out wrong." Every historian looks at the same evidence.


If that's the way you'd like to play it, then I'd point out that you've got this whole thing backwards. I'm sure you've already been told this countless times, but the burden of proof lay with you. I must admit that your openness to the supernatural inspiration of other religions is interesting, and ultimately self-negating (taking the battle of appeals to authority into the realm of the gods).

Uh no. The burden of proof lay with the person that makes the positive statement. If you say "There are myths contained in the bible," you need to show evidence for that assertion.


I would further stress that ruling out the possibility of any kind of supernatural event is not my goal. My argument would be, as the saying goes, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

ECREE. A Completely illogical catch phrase that is entirely dependent upon what someone considers extraordinary and also is entirely dependent upon someone not knowing what the word evidence means, the fact that your argument rests upon that is not surprising at all. A man that has spent his entire life living in the Amazon Jungle would consider an airplane extraordinary. Showing him a picture is not 'extraordinary evidence,' unless you are willing to accept a picture of a man floating as extraordinary evidence people can fly. Taking him to see an airplane for himself isn't 'extraordinary evidence' unless you're willing to accept personal experience of God as extraordinary evidence.


TD, you are in a tight spot. No matter what, all you or I or anyone have to go on about an ambiguous event 2,000 years ago is speculation. But your position demands that you conflate speculation to certainty, and then go day-to-day as if nothing in the world challenges that "certainty" (like over 150 years of critical biblical scholarship). What a dreadful place to be.

What you call an 'ambiguous event 2,000 years ago' others might call a 'well documented event 2,000 years ago.' Whatever you want to say to make yourself feel better. As for your assertion about conflating speculation to certainty I guess, in addition to being completely devoid of logic, you are also a hypocrite, since you are "conflating speculation to certainty, and then go day-to-day as if nothing in the world challenges that "certainty" (like over 150 years of critical biblical scholarship and everyday experiences by millions of people)."

michadelic said...

“”First off I asked you to define 'theological bias.' Please do so.””

You’re right, I forgot to do this. A bias can simply be an assumption or worldview by which one interprets something. A theological bias would be a preference to see things in a way that bolsters one’s perspective. This is not intrinsically bad, so long as one understands that that is what one is doing.

“”Secondly an explanation that best fits with what we know about the world is not "the supernatural does not exist." Given the fact that there is an abundance of anecdotal, documentary and historical evidence throughout human history of the supernatural, an explanation that best fits with what we know about the world should include the supernatural.””

If supernatural events are plenteous throughout human history, and throughout the world presently, this does not lend much to the idea that the Christian story, even if supernatural at base, is something unique. Taken fully, your thinking lends to universalism. In a way this is innocuous enough, since it deadens the dogmatic exclusivism so paramount in Christian thinking. If you truly believe this, then think through its implications.

“”Read what I said again. The evidence is not up to par according to you and the people whose views you agree with. You and the people whos views you agree with do not solely get to define the quality of evidence. In other words one groups view of the evidence is hardly the defining factor of how everyone should view the evidence. nor is it the defining factor on how the evidence is best viewed. You seem to think that just because a group of skeptics aren't convinced by the evidence than the evidence isn't convincing, which is illogical.””

Actually, I do get to critically appraise the quality of the evidence. And the reason I’m not convinced by the evidence is because I haven’t found the evidence all that convincing.
(cont.)

michadelic said...

“”I've read the New Testament. The fact that the 'authors'(please define authors, I assume you meant disciples) didn't understand what Jesus was saying in regards to the 2nd coming is hardly evidence that the 2nd coming was actually supposed to occur within their generation. You are making an error of logic in assuming the correct meaning of certain scriptures lies solely with the disciples understanding, ESPECIALLY since the New Testament is rife with examples of the disciples not understanding what Jesus said. Mark 8:14-21 clearly shows the disciples not understanding something Jesus did. John 6:60-66 shows some of the disciples not understanding what Jesus meant when He said He was the Bread of Life. Matthew 15:15-16 again shows the disciples not understanding something. Saying 'it is obvious that the 2nd coming was supposed to be within their life times because that is how the disciples understood it,' is a huge error of logic since there are many examples of the disciples not understanding what Jesus was saying and thus attempting to determine what Jesus really meant based off of how the disciples understood Him is like attempting to determine what a rapper means in a song based off of how someone who doesn't understand the culture of hiphop understands him.””

Central to the very New Testament message itself is the teaching of the then-soon return of Jesus Christ. I can not only call upon a plethora of texts explicitly testifying to this (which you don’t seem to deny), but I can also point out how such a belief is central to the very internal logic of the teachings of many of the arguments found in Paul and others, including Jesus himself, as he is recorded. For instance, does Paul’s logic about the purpose of the church make much sense in light of 2,000 more years of history, the world going on just as it has? The tone, urgency and arguments within the epistles make absolutely no sense if we admit for the possibility of 2,000 more years of history.

Furthermore, the New Testament basically makes ONE prediction, and that is, the second coming within a short time of the writing of those documents. That is basically the only prediction Jesus, Paul, etc., are ever recorded as making. And the fact that this one, central prophecy failed is positively catastrophic for Christianity and calls seriously into question everything else. And no amount of downplaying has ever been able to soften that blow.

So it follows - if the disciples could not get their one, central prediction correct, why ought heed the rest? Their credibility is ruined, and quite actually, on that basis alone we are fully justified in rejecting their claims. If God was really behind that movement, you’d think he would have made sure they would’ve gotten that one thing right, if nothing else!

If they could not understand their own teacher and the meaning of their own faith, why should we be coerced to accept the rest? Are you saying you actually know more now than they did?

And even though, as you point out, there are records in scripture of certain disciples not understanding the meaning of this or that, you miss the fact that their misunderstanding is itself recorded in the documents themselves, which in turn supply what is presumed to be the correct understanding. And it is the documents themselves which testify to the expectation of the second coming within their generation.

What you’re arguing is that the authors of the New Testament did not understand what they were writing, and that you do, which is not too flattering for them. But isn’t that what you’re forced to do? Since they were so clearly wrong in saying what they explicitly said, you have to find some way of downplaying their error.

As for ‘please define authors’ - I mean whoever wrote the New Testament. We don’t actually know who wrote much of the material therein, unless by ‘disciple’ you simply mean someone who was a Christian in the first century.
(cont.)

michadelic said...

““Questionable to whom? 1Timonthy is not commonly accepted as an authentic Pauline document according to whom? to the historians YOU agree with or to the historians the fundy Christians agree with? to the historians the moderate Christians agree with? there you go again trying to battle historians like pokemon. Funny how you skeptic types seem to think "questionable" and "its being debated" is synonymous with "flat out wrong." Every historian looks at the same evidence.””

As for the authorship of 1Timothy - “questionable to whom”? - I’ve only consulted the consensus view of Oxford scholars (Oxford Bible Commentary) and the world-class scholars represented in “Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible.”


“”Uh no. The burden of proof lay with the person that makes the positive statement. If you say "There are myths contained in the bible," you need to show evidence for that assertion.””

The claim is being made by you, namely, that the claims of the New Testament are factually accurate (and which ultimately means that I (personally) ought to obey the writings of the early Christians!) This is a little bit lopsided and unfair to me! Why should I take your position as the default one, when you are the one making the claims? My “assertion” of its mythical nature is simply in accord with how any unassuming anthropology of religion would describe it.

“”ECREE. A Completely illogical catch phrase that is entirely dependent upon what someone considers extraordinary and also is entirely dependent upon someone not knowing what the word evidence means, the fact that your argument rests upon that is not surprising at all. A man that has spent his entire life living in the Amazon Jungle would consider an airplane extraordinary. Showing him a picture is not 'extraordinary evidence,' unless you are willing to accept a picture of a man floating as extraordinary evidence people can fly. Taking him to see an airplane for himself isn't 'extraordinary evidence' unless you're willing to accept personal experience of God as extraordinary evidence.””

Here’s what I think your real objection to this phrase is: it establishes a standard by which to judge (religious) claims. If you’re going to tell me that God expects me to believe that a man who lived and died 2,000 years is still alive and that I should restructure my life according to all that was written about him in 27 books, then I want the evidence to match the implications and demands on my life. A man that has spent his life living in the Amazon Jungle would not be expected to accept the existence of airplanes so as to determine the meaning of his life.

I can’t prove that your claims aren’t true, but I can claim that the evidence you offer isn’t nearly enough to amount to anything above speculation, whilst in the face of it I have many reasons to believe that such claims are not true.
(cont.)

michadelic said...

As for personal experience of God, I’m not the kind of person to attack you spirituality, so if your own personal experience is meaningful to you, have fun. Just note that so is mine, and that the world of spirituality goes way beyond the origins of Christianity. Still, experiences are easily misinterpreted in the process of objectification. While personally experiencing an airplane would be extraordinary evidence for the man who never saw one, that experience of the airplane would have to demonstrate its reality in a multitude of other ways, lest its objective reality be called into question. If, for instance, I thought I saw an airplane in front of me and it disappeared before my eyes, while no one else who was with me at the time saw it, I might think to have my head examined.


““What you call an 'ambiguous event 2,000 years ago' others might call a 'well documented event 2,000 years ago.' Whatever you want to say to make yourself feel better. As for your assertion about conflating speculation to certainty I guess, in addition to being completely devoid of logic, you are also a hypocrite, since you are "conflating speculation to certainty, and then go day-to-day as if nothing in the world challenges that "certainty" (like over 150 years of critical biblical scholarship and everyday experiences by millions of people).””

I cannot deny with absolute certainty that the early Christians may have encountered something supernatural. My position doesn’t require certainty - yours does. It’s not so easy to turn the tables when you’re the one with the absolutist stance. I think you’re mainly playing words games at this point. The vast majority critical of biblical scholarship (150 years worth) do not support your conclusions, and therefore do not merit the certainty required for any semblance of faith in the literal factuality of the accounts. You may call it a ‘well documented event,’ but you haven’t demonstrated that this is the case.

I’ve already spent much more time and effort debating this than I ever intended; and I honestly don’t think it’s worth it. Life is short, and we both should be doing things that actually matter.

Devi Vanamali is a Hindu mystic. In the preface to her book, it was written,

‘At one of her talks, someone asked about whether Krishna is an actual historical figure. Her answer was interesting. Devi, whose whole life is lived in devotion to her Lord Krishna, said that if it was proved that Jesus Christ was not an actual historical figure, many Christians would feel that the underpinnings of their faith had been destroyed. But if it was proved that Krishna was not an actual historical figure, Hindus would hardly care! The message of this book is of a reality that transcends cultural and historical particularities.’

Wouldn’t be nice if Christians could find their spiritual lives secure enough without having to work themselves in a lather of cognitive dissonance when the historical factuality of their claims are called into question? If you believe that spirituality forms a large part of human history, why not open up to it? It would be better than holding on to narrow dogma.

Peace to you,
Mike

Theological Discourse said...


If supernatural events are plenteous throughout human history, and throughout the world presently, this does not lend much to the idea that the Christian story, even if supernatural at base, is something unique. Taken fully, your thinking lends to universalism. In a way this is innocuous enough, since it deadens the dogmatic exclusivism so paramount in Christian thinking. If you truly believe this, then think through its implications.

Where did I say or imply that the existence of supernatural events(presently and throughout history) is evidence that Christianity is unique? no, sorry. Me bringing up the plethora of supernatural events (present and in history) was to show you how your initial assumption of "the supernatural does not exist" is not an explanation that best fits the world. You should really stop trying to take my responses to your arguments out of context.


Actually, I do get to critically appraise the quality of the evidence. And the reason I’m not convinced by the evidence is because I haven’t found the evidence all that convincing.

*whooosh* my response went right over your head. It has nothing to do with whether you get to critically appraise the evidence and everything to do with your assumption that just because the evidence isn't convincing to you or the people whose views you identify with than it isn't convincing at all or convincing objectively or legitimately convincing.


Central to the very New Testament message itself is the teaching of the then-soon return of Jesus Christ. I can not only call upon a plethora of texts explicitly testifying to this (which you don’t seem to deny), but I can also point out how such a belief is central to the very internal logic of the teachings of many of the arguments found in Paul and others, including Jesus himself, as he is recorded. For instance, does Paul’s logic about the purpose of the church make much sense in light of 2,000 more years of history, the world going on just as it has? The tone, urgency and arguments within the epistles make absolutely no sense if we admit for the possibility of 2,000 more years of history.

I've asked you for evidence TWICE regarding this and you havn't provided ANY. So, I will ask you again. Give me evidence, give me the scriptures that back up your assertions. All you are doing is engaging in the same type of illogical reasoning I described, and your assertion about Paul and how an imminent return of Christ is nothing but PURE NAKED ASSERTION. It is hilarious how you are going on with these passive aggressive arguments about evidence when you have refused to provide A SHRED OF IT to back up your assertion.


Furthermore, the New Testament basically makes ONE prediction, and that is, the second coming within a short time of the writing of those documents. That is basically the only prediction Jesus, Paul, etc., are ever recorded as making. And the fact that this one, central prophecy failed is positively catastrophic for Christianity and calls seriously into question everything else. And no amount of downplaying has ever been able to soften that blow.

Pure assertion backed with no evidence whatsoever other than your own naked assertion. You would think someone whining about how Christians aren't giving him enough evidence would provide evidence for his own assertions. You're such a hypocrite.

Theological Discourse said...


So it follows - if the disciples could not get their one, central prediction correct, why ought heed the rest? Their credibility is ruined, and quite actually, on that basis alone we are fully justified in rejecting their claims. If God was really behind that movement, you’d think he would have made sure they would’ve gotten that one thing right, if nothing else!

If they could not understand their own teacher and the meaning of their own faith, why should we be coerced to accept the rest? Are you saying you actually know more now than they did?


Hey look, your premise was based on pure naked assertion so it follows that the conclusion is as worthless as the premise.


And even though, as you point out, there are records in scripture of certain disciples not understanding the meaning of this or that, you miss the fact that their misunderstanding is itself recorded in the documents themselves, which in turn supply what is presumed to be the correct understanding. And it is the documents themselves which testify to the expectation of the second coming within their generation.

No, I didn't miss that fact. You seem to forget that when the disciples didn't understand something Christ later explained it to them. Looks like you're the one that hasn't read the New Testament, and again, the New Testament does not testify the expectation of the 2nd coming within their generation at all.


What you’re arguing is that the authors of the New Testament did not understand what they were writing, and that you do, which is not too flattering for them. But isn’t that what you’re forced to do? Since they were so clearly wrong in saying what they explicitly said, you have to find some way of downplaying their error.

No, I am not. I am arguing that the authors of the New Testament recorded events and these events showed the disciples frequently misunderstanding Christ message and Christ frequently correcting them. Some times Christ did not offer an explanation, and during those times, the answer can EASILY be found with a bit of logic, knowledge of early church history, and reading comprehension.


As for the authorship of 1Timothy - “questionable to whom”? - I’ve only consulted the consensus view of Oxford scholars (Oxford Bible Commentary) and the world-class scholars represented in “Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible.”

So in other words you've only consulted the view of scholars who already agree with your opinion. Laughable. Try looking at the evidence itself or looking at the OTHER SIDE of the argument and you will see that "no consensus" and "constantly being debated" does not = flat out wrong. There is plenty of evidence that shows 1timothy being written by Paul.


The claim is being made by you, namely, that the claims of the New Testament are factually accurate (and which ultimately means that I (personally) ought to obey the writings of the early Christians!) This is a little bit lopsided and unfair to me! Why should I take your position as the default one, when you are the one making the claims? My “assertion” of its mythical nature is simply in accord with how any unassuming anthropology of religion would describe it.

What part of "the burden of proof lies with he who makes a positive assertion?" do you not understand? You made the positive statement that there are myths in Christianity so YOU need to provide evidence for it. You creating an assumption about me based on my religious beliefs out of thin air does not automatically give me the burden of proof. Sorry, logic doesn't work that way, I suggest learning it. You can start here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof


When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on him or her making a claim


What claim have I made? thought so, and please don't confuse holding you to the rules of logic with me 'chickening out.' That would be ANOTHER logical error from you.

Theological Discourse said...


Here’s what I think your real objection to this phrase is: it establishes a standard by which to judge (religious) claims. If you’re going to tell me that God expects me to believe that a man who lived and died 2,000 years is still alive and that I should restructure my life according to all that was written about him in 27 books, then I want the evidence to match the implications and demands on my life. A man that has spent his life living in the Amazon Jungle would not be expected to accept the existence of airplanes so as to determine the meaning of his life.

Uh-no. The real objection is EXACTLY what I described in the last post. You want to call it a standard to judge religious claims? fine, but it is an illogical irrational standard for the reasons I described in the last post, the fact that a man that has spent his life living in the Amazon Jungle would not be expected to accept the existence of airplanes has absolutely NOTHING TO DO with the fact that the ECREE catch phrase is illogical and irrational because it is entirely dependent on how someone defines extraordinary, being completely ignorant as to what evidence is. Once again you completely missed the point by focusing on the completely irrelevant issue of whether or not someone should accept the existence of something to determine the meaning of ones life. It is hilarious how you just aren't grasping these simple facts. Either a picture is extraordinary evidence or not, either personal experience is extraordinary or not. To the Amazon man, a plane is an extraordinary claim or it isn't, if it is, than you must provide extraordinary evidence for the existence of a plane, if an airplane isn't an extraordinary claim, than you are picking and choosing what an extraordinary claim is based upon your own experiences, i.e. a plane is not an extraordinary claim because you have seen one. It might be a supernatural claim to the amazon guy but oh well right? well if that's the case supernatural claim X is not an extraordinary claim because the Christian has experienced it before. It might be a supernatural claim to you, but oh well right? therefore you've conceded that supernatural claims are entirely relative.

Theological Discourse said...


I can’t prove that your claims aren’t true, but I can claim that the evidence you offer isn’t nearly enough to amount to anything above speculation, whilst in the face of it I have many reasons to believe that such claims are not true.

As for personal experience of God, I’m not the kind of person to attack you spirituality, so if your own personal experience is meaningful to you, have fun. Just note that so is mine, and that the world of spirituality goes way beyond the origins of Christianity. Still, experiences are easily misinterpreted in the process of objectification. While personally experiencing an airplane would be extraordinary evidence for the man who never saw one, that experience of the airplane would have to demonstrate its reality in a multitude of other ways, lest its objective reality be called into question. If, for instance, I thought I saw an airplane in front of me and it disappeared before my eyes, while no one else who was with me at the time saw it, I might think to have my head examined.

*whoosh* missed the point again. Either personal experience is extraordinary evidence or it isn't.


I cannot deny with absolute certainty that the early Christians may have encountered something supernatural. My position doesn’t require certainty - yours does. It’s not so easy to turn the tables when you’re the one with the absolutist stance. I think you’re mainly playing words games at this point. The vast majority critical of biblical scholarship (150 years worth) do not support your conclusions, and therefore do not merit the certainty required for any semblance of faith in the literal factuality of the accounts. You may call it a ‘well documented event,’ but you haven’t demonstrated that this is the case.

So you're not certain that there are myths in the bible? you're not certain that "the vast majority critical of biblical scholarship (150 years worth) do not support my conclusions, and therefore do not merit the certainty required for any semblance of faith in the literal factuality of the accounts"?



Wouldn’t be nice if Christians could find their spiritual lives secure enough without having to work themselves in a lather of cognitive dissonance when the historical factuality of their claims are called into question? If you believe that spirituality forms a large part of human history, why not open up to it? It would be better than holding on to narrow dogma.

Given the fact that you have not provided a shred of evidence to back up any of your incorrect assertions, I'd say the one with cognitive dissonance is you, especially if you;re trying to compare krishna to Jesus Christ.

michadelic said...

TD,

I understand that as an apologist, your “job” is to maintain a peculiar sense of bravado in the face of opposition; moreover, that your position demands (as is necessary for the aura of certainty) that your position be ‘obviously’ true and default, and that any other perspective be manifestly wrong and subject to dismissal without consideration. I hope you may see some time how this attitude is not constructive and only serves to preach to the converted, yourself included.

Now, for such an attitude to be justified, your view must be the only admissible one; to say nothing of whether it is the “best” one (which in my view it is not).

Besides this, I notice a couple things that you have either not addressed or not denied (the latter of which is telling indeed):

1 You have not supplied, as per my request, the best evidence on which your certitude rests (so that we may all see and perhaps be converted). Since, as you emphasize, all historians are working with the same facts, demonstrate how they unambiguously justify your certitude.

2 You have not denied that you are conflating speculation with certainty; you merely tried, albeit unsuccessfully in my view, to reverse the accusation.

““Where did I say or imply that the existence of supernatural events(presently and throughout history) is evidence that Christianity is unique? no, sorry. Me bringing up the plethora of supernatural events (present and in history) was to show you how your initial assumption of "the supernatural does not exist" is not an explanation that best fits the world. You should really stop trying to take my responses to your arguments out of context.””

You stated that you were open to the supernatural origins of other religions. I am happy to work with your own arguments to see whether they lead to your conclusion. I really have no opinion regarding the possibility of the “supernatural,” especially since it is such a nebulous term. But I would argue that the natural, broadly speaking, is the most “natural” assumption to make regarding any phenomenon, especially (though not exclusively) in the light of the modern scientific perspective. A natural explanation for something is always to be sought before some other kind of explanation, otherwise you’re really not utilizing your critical faculties, in which case you will be credulous and open to any suggestion.

michadelic said...

Moreover, as I argue, your view, if taken at face value, does not lead to a view of Christianity as having something necessarily unique (or even correct) to say. If the supernatural, broadly speaking (as such an ambiguous word must be), is working everywhere, then there is no reason to give primacy to the Christian message. Even if we were to forsake a natural explanation of the origins of Christianity (which is not warranted), it could just as well be the case that the disciples were wrong about the meaning and nature of the event (as you have confessed they were often wrong, even about things as important as the second coming). Perhaps “other gods and demons” - or literally whatever - was responsible for the event, and not what they had imputed to it.

““*whooosh* my response went right over your head. It has nothing to do with whether you get to critically appraise the evidence and everything to do with your assumption that just because the evidence isn't convincing to you or the people whose views you identify with than it isn't convincing at all or convincing objectively or legitimately convincing.””

I can read very well what you wrote. “You seem to think that just because a group of skeptics aren't convinced by the evidence than the evidence isn't convincing, which is illogical.” It simply doesn’t apply to me. Now, if you’re going to argue that the evidence is “objectively convincing,” then you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.

““So you're not certain that there are myths in the bible? you're not certain that "the vast majority critical of biblical scholarship (150 years worth) do not support my conclusions, and therefore do not merit the certainty required for any semblance of faith in the literal factuality of the accounts"?””

I would say with high probability that there are myths in the bible. Global floods, nephilim, talking animals, virgin births, dying/rising/ascending, etc., all ring powerfully as myth. Of course, they could actually have happened, and their similarity to mythology may be purely accidental; there could really have been a talking snake, a virgin birth, or a man ascending into “heaven.” But I have no reason to believe it, much less to be certain about it. You, on the other hand, do. I have no need of being certain of any particular historical claim, any more than I need to be certain about whether Homer really authored the Iliad. Ultimately it is not so important whether Homer even existed or not, and neither is it so important if Jesus did (even though, just to clarify, I do believe there was a Jesus as a historical figure). Only in “faith” is such an all-important demand placed on believing some particular fact or event for which it is in principle impossible to be certain about.

The majority of critical biblical scholarship, on the other hand - I have some certainty about that, since it is a present reality which I have had the experience of interacting with in some measure.

““*whoosh* missed the point again. Either personal experience is extraordinary evidence or it isn't.””

Although I know that the mindset of the fundamentalist doesn’t work well with the reality of the ambiguity of life, it really is not as clear cut as that, I’m afraid.

““Uh-no. The real objection is EXACTLY what I described in the last post. You want to call it a standard to judge religious claims? fine, but it is an illogical irrational standard for the reasons I described in the last post, the fact that a man that has spent his life living in the Amazon Jungle would not be expected to accept the existence of airplanes has absolutely NOTHING TO DO with the fact that the ECREE catch phrase is illogical and irrational because it is entirely dependent on how someone defines extraordinary, being completely ignorant as to what evidence is.””
(cont.)

michadelic said...

Ok, let us explain the meaning of this “catchphrase” that you are so hung up on. If I were to unearth a parchment, say, 300 years old, that documented a business transaction between John Doe and Jane Doe, I would really have no reason to doubt the authenticity of that document. But if that document then went on to state that John Doe went on to ascend into the clouds, I would be very justified in treating it with suspicion and, at the very least, suspend judgment (even though other parts were believable and perhaps even true!). Now, what is the difference between the first scenario and the second? The “evidence” is the same for both - a document. But in the first case that alone is enough, in the second, not nearly enough.

““Once again you completely missed the point by focusing on the completely irrelevant issue of whether or not someone should accept the existence of something to determine the meaning of ones life.””

This is actually an important point because that is exactly what this kind of “faith” demands of an individual. As for the rest, if the “supernatural” as you conceive of it becomes an obvious part of my existential situation, then so be it. Right now it contradicts a vast body of evidence collectively accumulated, both empirically and through reason. My argument stems from my experience of the world (and not mine alone by any means), which totally conflicts with the world you describe (and I’m inclined to think that God would design a better system than that!) The “relativity” you describe doesn’t mean a whole lot. Hard evidence is still needed to justifiably persuade someone of something, whatever their perceptions. For instance, the reason why I do not accept the existence of a personal deity is not because I have ruled it out by fiat (the opposite is actually the case for me!), but because nothing in my experience of life testifies to such an idea.

Now, “God” apparently does not reveal himself to every Christian. The supernatural, I would wager, is not an actual reality to most Christians - just an idea. Most of the “converted” have had no experience remotely justifying the level of commitment they are expected to exhibit. But even so, your appeal to the testimony of millions of people is moot point, since virtually identical experiences are described by people all over the world representing all religions. Either way, you're being contradicted.

Finally, your argument has merely led to this: if the disciples were fully justified by their experience to believe what they did (IF what was written in the NT actually happened), we are not justified in believing it if our experience contradicts it. This makes apologetics, preaching, etc., basically meaningless, and it flies in the face of the “objective evidence” you first argued for. I’m glad our views are converging here.
(cont.)

michadelic said...

“”I've asked you for evidence TWICE regarding this and you havn't provided ANY. So, I will ask you again. Give me evidence, give me the scriptures that back up your assertions. All you are doing is engaging in the same type of illogical reasoning I described, and your assertion about Paul and how an imminent return of Christ is nothing but PURE NAKED ASSERTION. It is hilarious how you are going on with these passive aggressive arguments about evidence when you have refused to provide A SHRED OF IT to back up your assertion.””

“”Pure assertion backed with no evidence whatsoever other than your own naked assertion. You would think someone whining about how Christians aren't giving him enough evidence would provide evidence for his own assertions. You're such a hypocrite.””

For someone who claims to study the New Testament, I find these statements extraordinary. The expectation of the second coming is such a basic theme that I could just as well copy and paste the entire New Testament here as my evidence. One would think that for anyone who is a student of the NT, whatever their persuasion, they would have to deal with this fact: that the authors of the NT believed in a second coming in approximately the first century, and they were wrong. Now, if you want me to actually go through the drudgery of copy-and-pasting text after text after text as evidence, then I can do so. But first, will you confess that if indeed I can provide the said evidence, that my arguments above are valid? Meaning, that if the disciples were so profoundly wrong about this central message, then everything else deserves to be held suspect?, that the second coming is not a minor issue or error to be shrugged off in the fashion that you have done? If not, then there is no point in me spending additional time pouring over the NT to pull examples.

As always, peace to you,
Mike

Theological Discourse said...


I understand that as an apologist, your “job” is to maintain a peculiar sense of bravado in the face of opposition; moreover, that your position demands (as is necessary for the aura of certainty) that your position be ‘obviously’ true and default, and that any other perspective be manifestly wrong and subject to dismissal without consideration. I hope you may see some time how this attitude is not constructive and only serves to preach to the converted, yourself included.

If I had a nickel for each time a skeptic complained about my 'attitude' every time I point out their hypocrisy and illogical reasoning....


Now, for such an attitude to be justified, your view must be the only admissible one; to say nothing of whether it is the “best” one (which in my view it is not).

Begging the question. An attitude like mine can be justified whether my view is the only admissible one or not. Another logical error from you.



1 You have not supplied, as per my request, the best evidence on which your certitude rests (so that we may all see and perhaps be converted). Since, as you emphasize, all historians are working with the same facts, demonstrate how they unambiguously justify your certitude.

That is because your request was an obvious attempt at trying to shift the burden of proof. Sorry, logic doesn't work that way.


2 You have not denied that you are conflating speculation with certainty; you merely tried, albeit unsuccessfully in my view, to reverse the accusation.

I suggest you up your reading comprehension.

What you call an 'ambiguous event 2,000 years ago' others might call a 'well documented event 2,000 years ago.'

Guess what category I fall under.


You stated that you were open to the supernatural origins of other religions. I am happy to work with your own arguments to see whether they lead to your conclusion.

More assumptions? What conclusion might that be?


I really have no opinion regarding the possibility of the “supernatural,” especially since it is such a nebulous term. But I would argue that the natural, broadly speaking, is the most “natural” assumption to make regarding any phenomenon, especially (though not exclusively) in the light of the modern scientific perspective. A natural explanation for something is always to be sought before some other kind of explanation, otherwise you’re really not utilizing your critical faculties, in which case you will be credulous and open to any suggestion.

Please provide evidence for your ridiculous assertion that a natural explanation for something is always to be sought before some other kind of explanation, otherwise you’re really not utilizing your critical faculties, in which case you will be credulous and open to any suggestion. Why does the explanation need to be natural and why does it simply need to be an explanation that best fits the evidence?


Moreover, as I argue, your view, if taken at face value, does not lead to a view of Christianity as having something necessarily unique (or even correct) to say. If the supernatural, broadly speaking (as such an ambiguous word must be), is working everywhere, then there is no reason to give primacy to the Christian message.

Have you even READ the bible? Its hilarious how you seem to think that the existence of supernatural events outside of Christianity means Christianity cannot be correct despite the Christianity saying the exact opposite.

Theological Discourse said...


Even if we were to forsake a natural explanation of the origins of Christianity (which is not warranted), it could just as well be the case that the disciples were wrong about the meaning and nature of the event (as you have confessed they were often wrong, even about things as important as the second coming). Perhaps “other gods and demons” - or literally whatever - was responsible for the event, and not what they had imputed to it.

Yes, the disciples were wrong very often....you just forgot about the REST of the bible, the entire old testament and the rest of the new testament and you forgot about how Christ CORRECTED the disciples when they were wrong. In other words, you're cherry picking one thing (the disciples misunderstanding something) and building an entire argument off of it, while completley ignoring everything else that destroys your argument, like the rest of the NT, the entire OT, and how Christ corrected the disciple. The very fact that Christ Himself said that His Resurrection was the work of the Father clearly shows your assertion of "Perhaps“other gods and demons” - or literally whatever - was responsible for the event, and not what they had imputed to it." to be entirely incorrect. This would be yet another logical error from you. You're really racking em up.


I can read very well what you wrote. “You seem to think that just because a group of skeptics aren't convinced by the evidence than the evidence isn't convincing, which is illogical.” It simply doesn’t apply to me. Now, if you’re going to argue that the evidence is “objectively convincing,” then you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.

Yes it does apply to you. You think that the evidence for Christianity is not objectively convincing or legitimately convincing because you and/or the group of people you identify with don't find the evidence up to par according to your standards. News flash, your standard of what constitutes convincing evidence isn't the only standard, let alone the best one.


I would say with high probability that there are myths in the bible. Global floods, nephilim, talking animals, virgin births, dying/rising/ascending, etc., all ring powerfully as myth. Of course, they could actually have happened, and their similarity to mythology may be purely accidental; there could really have been a talking snake, a virgin birth, or a man ascending into “heaven.” But I have no reason to believe it, much less to be certain about it. You, on the other hand, do. I have no need of being certain of any particular historical claim, any more than I need to be certain about whether Homer really authored the Iliad. Ultimately it is not so important whether Homer even existed or not, and neither is it so important if Jesus did (even though, just to clarify, I do believe there was a Jesus as a historical figure). Only in “faith” is such an all-important demand placed on believing some particular fact or event for which it is in principle impossible to be certain about.

The majority of critical biblical scholarship, on the other hand - I have some certainty about that, since it is a present reality which I have had the experience of interacting with in some measure.

Gotta love it when skeptics wiggle and squirm when pressed. I'll ask again, it's a simple question.
1. Are you certain that there are myths in the bible? Yes or no?

2. Are you certain that "the vast majority critical of biblical scholarship (150 years worth) do not support my conclusions, and therefore do not merit the certainty required for any semblance of faith in the literal factuality of the accounts"? Yes or no?

3. Does 'some certainty' mean you are certain yes or no?

Theological Discourse said...


But even so, your appeal to the testimony of millions of people is moot point, since virtually identical experiences are described by people all over the world representing all religions. Either way, you're being contradicted.

Where is the contradiction? Feel free to provide evidence for that assertion as well.



Finally, your argument has merely led to this: if the disciples were fully justified by their experience to believe what they did (IF what was written in the NT actually happened), we are not justified in believing it if our experience contradicts it. This makes apologetics, preaching, etc., basically meaningless, and it flies in the face of the “objective evidence” you first argued for. I’m glad our views are converging here.

We are not justified in believing it if our experience contradicts it? why? because you said so? for someone that demands evidence for assertions you sure do give a lot of naked ones. Where did I argue about "objective evidence?" show me? you seem to think that me pointing out your logical failures = me arguing for "objective evidence." You're not doing any sound reasoning, you're just ignoring your errors, ignoring what I say, and making things up.


For someone who claims to study the New Testament, I find these statements extraordinary. The expectation of the second coming is such a basic theme that I could just as well copy and paste the entire New Testament here as my evidence. One would think that for anyone who is a student of the NT, whatever their persuasion, they would have to deal with this fact: that the authors of the NT believed in a second coming in approximately the first century, and they were wrong

I ask for evidence and instead I get....NOTHING. Instead I get you simply giving ANOTHER BARE ASSERTION by saying it is a FACT that the authors of the NT believed in a 2nd coming in approximately the first century and ONCE AGAIN making the same logical failure I described initially, which is saying X is true because person or group Y understood it to be that way. Logical error coupled with a failure to provide evidence.


Now, if you want me to actually go through the drudgery of copy-and-pasting text after text after text as evidence, then I can do so. But first, will you confess that if indeed I can provide the said evidence, that my arguments above are valid? Meaning, that if the disciples were so profoundly wrong about this central message, then everything else deserves to be held suspect? that the second coming is not a minor issue or error to be shrugged off in the fashion that you have done? If not, then there is no point in me spending additional time pouring over the NT to pull examples.

Sure, copy and paste the scriptures. I'll be waiting, and NO your arguments are not valid. The disciples being wrong about this central message does not mean everything else deserves to be held suspect because the foundation of the Christian faith is about Jesus, not what the disciples understood. When the disciples got something wrong about Jesus, He corrected them, so the fact that they misunderstood Him is a totally moot point. Jesus CORRECTED THEM. That is what you're missing. Jesus CORRECTED THEM, say it aloud, Jesus CORRECTED THE DISCIPLES WHEN THEY GOT IT WRONG. You are just cherry picking what I say.

Lets do a little re cap.

You have ignored my requests for evidence to back up your claims. These claims are as follows:

There are myths in the bible.
The 2nd coming was supposed to be in the disciples life time.

Your logical errors are as follows:

Person X said Z because group Y understood it that way.

Attempting to switch the burden of proof.

Begging the question.

Cherry picking.

There are multiple instances of each and I am looking forward to adding more to the list.

Theological Discourse said...


Although I know that the mindset of the fundamentalist doesn’t work well with the reality of the ambiguity of life, it really is not as clear cut as that, I’m afraid.

In other words, you won't answer the question. Who can blame you? since either way you answer shows how ridiculous ECREE is.


Ok, let us explain the meaning of this “catchphrase” that you are so hung up on. If I were to unearth a parchment, say, 300 years old, that documented a business transaction between John Doe and Jane Doe, I would really have no reason to doubt the authenticity of that document.

You might not have any reason to doubt the authenticity of that document, someone who doesn't believe in the existence of John Doe or Jane Doe might, someone who firmly believes that the human race is only 200 years old might doubt the authenticity of Jane and John existing back then, much less making a business transactions. Like I said, this claim might be mundane to you, but to someone else it might be extraordinary, which further proves my point that Ecree is entirely dependent upon how one defines extraordinary. What is extraordinary to YOU might NOT be extraordinary to someone else. Thanks for proving my point.



But if that document then went on to state that John Doe went on to ascend into the clouds, I would be very justified in treating it with suspicion and, at the very least, suspend judgment (even though other parts were believable and perhaps even true!). Now, what is the difference between the first scenario and the second? The “evidence” is the same for both - a document. But in the first case that alone is enough, in the second, not nearly enough.

Either a document is extraordinary evidence or it is not.

Theological Discourse said...


This is actually an important point because that is exactly what this kind of “faith” demands of an individual. As for the rest, if the “supernatural” as you conceive of it becomes an obvious part of my existential situation, then so be it. Right now it contradicts a vast body of evidence collectively accumulated, both empirically and through reason. My argument stems from my experience of the world (and not mine alone by any means), which totally conflicts with the world you describe (and I’m inclined to think that God would design a better system than that!)

What on earth do your experiences have to do with the fact that you concentrating on a completely irrelevant issue does not dispute my criticisms of your illogical catch phrase? let me make it more clear to you by doing a quick re cap. You brought up Ecree. I argued that Ecree is illogical and irrational. You responded to that argument by focusing on something completely irrelevant. I pointed out how you were focusing on something completely irrelevant, and instead of disputing that(either by focusing on something relevant or explaining how what you were initially focusing on wasn't irrelevant), you simply talk about your experiences. You're just trying to change the topic, sorry, not happening. Stop with your red herring attempts and deal with the topic at hand, which is you focusing on something irrelevant. Either it's irrelevant and you need to actually focus on the actual points of my argument or you need to explain how what you were talking about is relevant. You brought up how A man that has spent his life living in the Amazon Jungle would not be expected to accept the existence of airplanes so as to determine the meaning of his life. Either argue how that is relevant to my critcisms of your illogical catch phrase or concede it is not relevant and focus on something relevant. I'm waiting.



Now, “God” apparently does not reveal himself to every Christian. The supernatural, I would wager, is not an actual reality to most Christians - just an idea. Most of the “converted” have had no experience remotely justifying the level of commitment they are expected to exhibit.

Please back up your assertion that God does not reveal himself to every Christian, also back up your assertion that most of the converted have no experience remotely justifying the level of commitment they are expected to exhibit.

Theological Discourse said...


For someone who claims to study the New Testament, I find these statements extraordinary. The expectation of the second coming is such a basic theme that I could just as well copy and paste the entire New Testament here as my evidence. One would think that for anyone who is a student of the NT, whatever their persuasion, they would have to deal with this fact: that the authors of the NT believed in a second coming in approximately the first century, and they were wrong. Now, if you want me to actually go through the drudgery of copy-and-pasting text after text after text as evidence, then I can do so. But first, will you confess that if indeed I can provide the said evidence, that my arguments above are valid? Meaning, that if the disciples were so profoundly wrong about this central message, then everything else deserves to be held suspect?, that the second coming is not a minor issue or error to be shrugged off in the fashion that you have done? If not, then there is no point in me spending additional time pouring over the NT to pull examples.

Yet again the requests for evidence go unanswered. No I will not confess your argument is valid. Your argument is not valid because the disciples misunderstanding is a moot point, because Jesus CORRECTED THEM when they were wrong. All you're doing is cherry picking. You are selecting "the disciples were wrong," and ignoring everything else. Logical error, cherry picking. Post the text, all of them, so I can laugh at how you don't know what you're talking about.

GentleSkeptic said...

Michadelic for the easy win, I'm afraid. Clear, coherent, consistent, calm.

TD is out-flanked here. Also defensive and a little nasty.

But what do I know?

JD Curtis said...

Oh, for crying out loud. I know that this isn't mindless cheerleading on your behalf GS. What substantive argument raised by MD clearly trumped TD? (Insert the sound of GS actually scrolling through and reading the comments here)

TD is out-flanked here. Also defensive and a little nasty

Tone is not truth and you'd be better served to examine the difference between the two.

Theological Discourse said...


Michadelic for the easy win, I'm afraid. Clear, coherent, consistent, calm.

TD is out-flanked here. Also defensive and a little nasty.

But what do I know?

What do you know? Absolutely nothing. Quick re-cap.

Michadelic

Requests for evidence to back up his assertion constantly ignored, check.

At least 2 instances of hypocrisy, check.

multiple instances of cherry picking, check.

multiple logical errors regarding the burden of proof, check.

multiple logical error of stating Person X said Z because group Y understood it that way, check.

multiple logical error of question begging, check.

multiple instances of ignoring direct questions, check.

Using Ecree, check.

Comparing krishna to Jesus, check.


If that constitutes a win in your book it's quite obvious you value 'tone' over sound logical arguments, but of course, if I were to argue for the existence of God and the validity of Christianity using the same error filled, logically incoherent nonsense as Michadelic, but with a nice 'tone,' you'd be quick to point out the logical errors. In other words, you're just a cheerleader who roots for the people you identify with and base a 'win' by blowing up the tiniest things they got rght to epic proportions while ignoring they multitude of their errors. When it comes to the people you don't identify with, you blow up their tiniest errors to epic proportions while ignoring the multitudes of the things they got right, or in the case they didn't make any errors or you can't find any, you focus on irrelevant things like tone.

michadelic said...

I may not get around to a response for a couple of days, it being Christmas crunch-time. Rest assured, I've not encountered anything here that would make a skeptic "squirm." :D

It is somewhat amusing how I'm labeled a "skeptic" here, as if it were an exhaustive profile of one's character. "You skeptic types." lol. Here it simply means "anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian", or perhaps, "anyone who does not agree with them." All those Buddhists in Japan (or insert any persons representing any school of thought anywhere, besides Christianity) must be "those skeptic types", too. After all, they're certainly not persuaded to accept the tenets of Christianity.

Peace to you and Merry Christmas,
Mike

Theological Discourse said...

Still no evidence to back up your assertions. Laughable. you're such a hypocrite.
Do you have a shred of evidence that the word skeptic here means "anyone who is not a fundamentalist Christian?" feel free to back up that assertion as well. I'll also point out yet another instance of illogical reasoning from you, since you just begged the question again since your conclusion about Buddhist is based on your naked premise of the definition of what a skeptic is here, lol, what a joke you are.

I' cant help but point out how you could write all of these responses to me despite the Christmas rush, but when it's time to put up and actually provide the evidence you've been refusing to provide you simply make up your excuse the Christmas rush. Rofl! You can write response after response to me with no problems at all, but when it's time to actually walk the walk and follow through with your own words here:

"Now, if you want me to actually go through the drudgery of copy-and-pasting text after text after text as evidence, then I can do so."

You bring up an excuse about a Christmas rush! Rofl!! So it's ok to make response after response but as soon as you have to back up your empty worthless words you make up an excuse. Laughable.

michadelic said...

Dear TheologicalDiscourse,

My what a gracious "debater" you are. By all means continue to do your cause an immense disservice. When this grown-up has properly addressed his real-life responsibilities, he will tend to your trollish "arguments" (even though doing so renders them such undue attention). Frankly you sound like a 14 year old who managed to skim through some material on informal logical fallacies.

Peace to you,
Mike

Theological Discourse said...

Hey look, another response that doesn't contain the evidence you said you would give. The Christmas rush is preventing you from posting the evidence, but it isn't preventing you from posting ad hominems, what a joke. Furthermore, you can label my arguments "trollish" , but labeling them in such a way does not refute a single word I say. You can say I sound like a 14 year old who managed to skim through some material on logical fallacies, but calling me that does not take away from the fact that you engaged in every single one of those logical errors I described. Keep it up.

michadelic said...

Hello TD,

It is tempting to think that your hostility is due to your backing yourself into a corner. This is quite a large response, after which I will not be devoting you much more attention. I have better things to be doing with my time, honestly.

““The Christmas rush is preventing you from posting the evidence, but it isn't preventing you from posting ad hominems, what a joke.””

Sorry, not a joke; and I’ve not posted any ad hominems. An ad hominem is an attempt to dismiss an argument by attacking the character of the one who espouses it.

““If I had a nickel for each time a skeptic complained about my 'attitude' every time I point out their hypocrisy and illogical reasoning.…””

You mean every time you’ve resorted to name-calling? I’m not in the least surprised that you’d have a lot of nickels for that.

““Begging the question. An attitude like mine can be justified whether my view is the only admissible one or not. Another logical error from you.””

This is not begging the question. “Begging the question” is circular reasoning. I’ve made a statement that you cannot dismiss in this fashion, and that statement is that your aura of certainty can only be justified if yours is the only admissible view (i.e. that there can be no possible alternative, hence granting certainty). Now how about addressing the substance of my arguments rather than endlessly imagining “logical fallacies” so as to relieve you of having to write a thoughtful response.

““That is because your request was an obvious attempt at trying to shift the burden of proof. Sorry, logic doesn't work that way.””

Actually life works that way. There has been no shift in the burden of proof. You claim that a man rose from the dead and ascended into “heaven” 2,000 years ago. My position is the denial of yours. Without your affirmation, my negation would not exist. And I can’t prove a negative. This is all very elementary.

““What you call an 'ambiguous event 2,000 years ago' others might call a 'well documented event 2,000 years ago.'

Guess what category I fall under.””

So, whence your certainty? Be forthcoming, why don’t you?

““More assumptions? What conclusion might that be?””

Just what I wrote down following my statement to this was responding.

““Please provide evidence for your ridiculous assertion that a natural explanation for something is always to be sought before some other kind of explanation, otherwise you’re really not utilizing your critical faculties, in which case you will be credulous and open to any suggestion. Why does the explanation need to be natural and why does it simply need to be an explanation that best fits the evidence?””

michadelic said...

First. are you seriously asking why an explanation should best fit the evidence? If you don’t understand that, then there’s nothing I can hope to do for you.

Secondly, I offer the entire scientific enterprise as evidence for my “ridiculous” assertion. If you can offer a meaningful alternative to seeking a natural explanation for phenomena, then please do so. And if you can, how does it lead to actual knowledge about reality?

Thirdly, I honestly find this response ridiculous on the face of it:

1) Generally speaking, in which case is a supernatural (whatever that actually means: please define this term) a preferred explanation?
2) Is it just when talking about the New Testament? Why?
3) How about every presently unexplained event or fact? How was Stonehenge built? Perhaps by Fairies or the giant Cyclops? What is dark matter? The energy of ghosts who haven’t crossed over yet? Are these legitimate “explanations?”
4) How about more mundane facts like how your toaster manages to make your toast? Does a fire goddess magically teleport your toast to another dimension where she toasts it with elemental fire whereupon sending it back for your eating pleasure? If not, then why is such an explanation not preferred over talking about your toaster in terms of mechanical energy and conduction? Or is it preferred? Perhaps you are even now considering the fire goddess explication of the toaster?

No thinking person today would prefer, as a rule, a supernatural explanation to a natural one. And a supernatural explanation really is no explanation at all, unless you can conjure up a meaningful way of measuring and explicating the supernatural (but then it would start to look an awful lot like the natural, wouldn’t it?).

““Have you even READ the bible? Its hilarious how you seem to think that the existence of supernatural events outside of Christianity means Christianity cannot be correct despite the Christianity saying the exact opposite.””

I didn’t say that Christianity thus couldn’t be correct, what I said was that there is no objective means of measuring its correctness. If supernatural powers are working everywhere as you describe, then there is, on the face of it, no reliable way for the disciples (or anyone) to attribute with any certainty a correct interpretation on the nature and meaning of supernatural events.

And, my argument stands as much against Christianity itself as your own argument. It will do you no good to attempt to vindicate Christianity’s claims merely by citing Christianity’s claims. That would, in fact, be begging the question, as you clearly do in the following:

““Yes, the disciples were wrong very often....you just forgot about the REST of the bible, the entire old testament and the rest of the new testament and you forgot about how Christ CORRECTED the disciples when they were wrong. In other words, you're cherry picking one thing (the disciples misunderstanding something) and building an entire argument off of it, while completley ignoring everything else that destroys your argument, like the rest of the NT, the entire OT, and how Christ corrected the disciple. The very fact that Christ Himself said that His Resurrection was the work of the Father clearly shows your assertion of "Perhaps“other gods and demons” - or literally whatever - was responsible for the event, and not what they had imputed to it." to be entirely incorrect. This would be yet another logical error from you. You're really racking em up.””

michadelic said...

Again, this is entirely circular reasoning. You are citing the disciples claims as proof of the disciples claims. Please read my actual argument again.

““Yes it does apply to you. You think that the evidence for Christianity is not objectively convincing or legitimately convincing because you and/or the group of people you identify with don't find the evidence up to par according to your standards. News flash, your standard of what constitutes convincing evidence isn't the only standard, let alone the best one.””

No, I think that the evidence for Christianity is not “objectively convincing” because I have never encountered any evidence that unambiguously supports it. Meanwhile I encounter a lot of information that converges against it.

““Gotta love it when skeptics wiggle and squirm when pressed. I'll ask again, it's a simple question.

1. Are you certain that there are myths in the bible? Yes or no?

2. Are you certain that "the vast majority critical of biblical scholarship (150 years worth) do not support my conclusions, and therefore do not merit the certainty required for any semblance of faith in the literal factuality of the accounts"? Yes or no?

3. Does 'some certainty' mean you are certain yes or no?””

I assure you that contrary to your imagination I’m neither wiggling or squirming. I think you just don’t know how to respond to thoughtful skeptics because they don’t fall into your ready-made apologetics framework. So, Yeah or Nay? Based on available evidence (and the lack of evidence to the contrary) I would say with high probability or relative certainty that there are myths in the bible. That’s all I need in order to make a judgment (and apparently that’s all you need as well in your dismissal of other religious claims like those found in the Mormonism). Again, virgin births, dying/rising/ascending, apocalypses, global floods, nephilim, divinely commanded genital mutilation, all strike one irresistibly as myth. Similar response goes for 2 and 3.

“Where is the contradiction? Feel free to provide evidence for that assertion as well.””

You clearly cited the religious “experience of millions of Christians” as evidence. The fact that people have been having virtually identical religious experiences the world over negates your claim.

“”We are not justified in believing it if our experience contradicts it? why? because you said so? for someone that demands evidence for assertions you sure do give a lot of naked ones. Where did I argue about "objective evidence?" show me? you seem to think that me pointing out your logical failures = me arguing for "objective evidence." You're not doing any sound reasoning, you're just ignoring your errors, ignoring what I say, and making things up.””

Nope, actually you mentioned objective evidence in your very response to me. Forgetting what you write as you write it, eh? But let me address your first statement here by addressing what follows:

““You might not have any reason to doubt the authenticity of that document, someone who doesn't believe in the existence of John Doe or Jane Doe might, someone who firmly believes that the human race is only 200 years old might doubt the authenticity of Jane and John existing back then, much less making a business transactions. Like I said, this claim might be mundane to you, but to someone else it might be extraordinary, which further proves my point that Ecree is entirely dependent upon how one defines extraordinary. What is extraordinary to YOU might NOT be extraordinary to someone else. Thanks for proving my point.””

michadelic said...

So Jesus rising from the dead is not extraordinary to you? Just an everyday thing for you, eh? Also, your argument for the relativity of evidence does not lend much to your idea of it being “objectively convincing.”

Now, if you’d read my argument, you’d know that my response to this is that for the person for whom the claim is extraordinary, hard, unambiguous data will have to provided in order to justifiably persuade that individual. If none can be provided, in addition to throwing the claim into serious doubt, that person is not justified in believing it because everything he has encountered in life contradicts it.

But let’s get more to the heart of the issue. I know that you would like for me to let you get away with this tortured argument, but it’s just not going to work. And the reason why you’d like me to do so is because it would alleviate you of your task of providing unambiguous evidence for your position. You want us to just call it a wash because what counts as extraordinary is merely relative.

Now, while relativity is certainly a factor, this does not relieve you of the duty of actually providing unambiguous evidence in your favor. In the end, your argument here is a meaningless sidestep. It presumes that we are all blank slates and that there is no pre-given world (much older than 200 years, which no informed individual can deny), and it seeks to hoist your view onto a level playing field with mine. But it is not; your view has an up-hill battle ahead of it. You have to provide the unambiguous evidence befitting your certitude.

For instance, the reason why I would reject the proposition that humans can breathe under water is because I have never seen anyone who can, never encountered any evidence that anybody can, and lastly, because it contradicts a vast body of data about the human beings in general. Now, it is perfectly reasonable that in a blank-slate world, this present bias would not be justified, because in a blank-slate world humans could very well be able to do so. If we lived in a world where human beings are amphibious creatures and it is commonplace for humans to breathe under water, then the claim that someone could breathe underwater would not be an extraordinary (out-of-the-ordinary) claim, and it would not require some kind of extraordinary (out-of-the-ordinary) evidence. Indeed, merely being a human being (very ordinary) would by default be sufficient evidence!

But in our pre-given reality, in which we are having this discussion, a claim that humans can breathe under water will be met, even by you I wager, as extraordinary. No doubt you’d like to see some real evidence before accepting it, in which case simply being presented with a human being would not count as sufficient evidence! Catch my drift? In order to demonstrate that the extraordinary claim is correct, you’d actually have to find evidence justifying its acceptance, and in this case it would be actually finding and unambiguously confirming that a human being exists who can breathe under water. Nothing less will do, because we are not in a blank-slate world.

Now, again, the onus is on you. And here’s why I think you will not acknowledge this: because you know that the evidence does not unambiguously justify your certitude, and that you are conflating speculation with certainty. I think the reason for your refusal is that you’re embarrassed that your faith ultimately rests on a few, mostly anonymous documents propagated 2,000 years ago throughout a superstitious culture, penned decades after the supposed events themselves, which claim that a man rose from the dead (not to mention who thought the world was about to end); and all this was of course millennia before the advent of modern media like cameras, broadcasting, and modern investigative reporting. Your certitude rests on very unimpressive, anecdotal evidence.

michadelic said...

““Either a document is extraordinary evidence or it is not.””

I do not understand what this is supposed to mean.

“”What on earth do your experiences have to do with the fact that you concentrating on a completely irrelevant issue does not dispute my criticisms of your illogical catch phrase? let me make it more clear to you by doing a quick re cap. You brought up Ecree. I argued that Ecree is illogical and irrational. You responded to that argument by focusing on something completely irrelevant. I pointed out how you were focusing on something completely irrelevant, and instead of disputing that(either by focusing on something relevant or explaining how what you were initially focusing on wasn't irrelevant), you simply talk about your experiences. You're just trying to change the topic, sorry, not happening. Stop with your red herring attempts and deal with the topic at hand, which is you focusing on something irrelevant. Either it's irrelevant and you need to actually focus on the actual points of my argument or you need to explain how what you were talking about is relevant. You brought up how A man that has spent his life living in the Amazon Jungle would not be expected to accept the existence of airplanes so as to determine the meaning of his life. Either argue how that is relevant to my critcisms of your illogical catch phrase or concede it is not relevant and focus on something relevant. I'm waiting.””

I’m talking about my experiences in the context of our pre-given world which I have discussed above. By the way, you never did compose yourself enough to actually respond to my criticism of faith as irrationally placing all-importance on being certain about events about which it is impossible to be certain.

““Please back up your assertion that God does not reveal himself to every Christian, also back up your assertion that most of the converted have no experience remotely justifying the level of commitment they are expected to exhibit.””

I’ve been a Christian, I’ve known Christians my whole life. I’ve read and heard testimonies of Christians. I’m acquainted with Christendom. Now please come back to reality and reply relevantly.


““Your argument is not valid because the disciples misunderstanding is a moot point, because Jesus CORRECTED THEM when they were wrong.””

Perhaps you missed my addressing this issue:

And even though, as you point out, there are records in scripture of certain disciples not understanding the meaning of this or that, you miss the fact that their misunderstanding is itself recorded in the documents themselves, which in turn supply what is presumed to be the correct understanding. And it is the documents themselves which testify to the expectation of the second coming within their generation.

Furthermore, the real ironic thing is that Jesus himself, as recorded in the New Testament, endorses this error.

““Yet again the requests for evidence go unanswered. No I will not confess your argument is valid.””

So you admit that even in the face of my supplying the evidence you would not acknowledge its validity? Could you possibly be more obvious that you’ve already made up your mind (aka closed it)?
But because I said I would, I shall do so, even though you have no lived up to your end of this discussion, neither in substance nor in basic etiquette.

So, why not start with the very words attributed to Jesus, since you seem to be focused on that. Perhaps you’ve read the Olivet discourse recorded in all the synoptics, in which Jesus, indisputably talking about the context of the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70, insists that the “end” will be within that generation, to therefore know that it is “at the doors” when they begin to see it happen?

michadelic said...

Matthew 24
 2 But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
 3 And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
….
 16 then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains:
 17 let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out things that are in his house:
 18 and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak.
 19 But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days!
 20 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on a sabbath:
 21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be.

 26 If therefore they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the wilderness; go not forth: Behold, he is in the inner chambers; believe it not.
 27 For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the coming of the Son of man.

 29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
 30 and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
 31 And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
 32 Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh;
 33 even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors.
 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished.

Mark 13
 2 And Jesus said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down.
 3 And as he sat on the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
 4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are all about to be accomplished?
 5 And Jesus began to say unto them, Take heed that no man lead you astray.
 …
 24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
 25 and the stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken.
 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
 27 And then shall he send forth the angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
 28 Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh;
 29 even so ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors.
 30 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished.

michadelic said...

Luke 21:5 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, he said,
 6 As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
 7 And they asked him, saying, Teacher, when therefore shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are about to come to pass?
 8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not led astray: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am he; and, The time is at hand: go ye not after them.
 9 And when ye shall hear of wars and tumults, be not terrified: for these things must needs come to pass first; but the end is not immediately.

 20 But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand.
 21 Then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains; and let them that are in the midst of her depart out; and let not them that are in the country enter therein.
 22 For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
 23 Woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! for there shall be great distress upon the land, and wrath unto this people.
 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all the nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
 25 And there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows;
 26 men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world: for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.
 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
 28 But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh.
 29 And he spake to them a parable: Behold the fig tree, and all the trees:
 30 when they now shoot forth, ye see it and know of your own selves that the summer is now nigh.
 31 Even so ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh.
 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all things be accomplished.

Here’s a few samples of typical verses throughout the epistles. Note the urgency and tone of the letters, exhorting them to hold out as if it were almost over.

 1 John 2:18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

Hebrews1:1God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

Hebrews 9:25Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
 26For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

michadelic said...

 Acts2:14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

Then there’s this passage in 1 Thessalonians. Notice the concern for those who had already died, as if those who had died were going to miss out on something! Clearly they were under the impression that it was going to happen very, very soon. It’s really rather depressing…

 1 Thessalonians 4:13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
….
5:8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

Again, notice the confidence and urgency in Paul, which makes no sense in light of 2,000 years of history.

Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
 
1 Peter2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

michadelic said...

So I ask you, considering the entire force of doctrine in the epistles, what is the point of the church? The overwhelming sense I get from scripture is that the church was a last-minute community elected by God in the “last days.” It was a climatic “restoration” in fulfillment of God’s eschatological plan (hence Peter echoes the OT in the church being “a peculiar people” etc.). It makes absolutely no sense that the church should endure for 2,000 years, juxtaposed to the Jewish faith (which was not the vision of the church described by Paul in Romans 9), and growing into a fat and largely corrupt Western institution. Church history makes absolutely no sense in contrast to New Testament teaching.

That tension was building up because of this contradiction, as the second coming consistently failed materialize, is demonstrated in 2Peter, in which the author (not actually Peter) begins to apologize and make excuses for the tardiness surrounding the prediction, arguments which are still piteously employed today:

2 Peter 3:3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Apparently even by the penning of this epistle people were starting to wonder what’s up. They’d been perched atop their roofs with tin foil hats for a few decades taking quite seriously the immanent warnings of the apostles, yet…nothing materialized.

Peace to you,
Mike

JD Curtis said...

Go ahead MD.

If you like, streamline any question(s) or topic(s) you wish to discuss and send it to me in an email.

I'll start a new thread and we can concentrate on the relevant issues.

JC

Theological Discourse said...


Again, this is entirely circular reasoning. You are citing the disciples claims as proof of the disciples claims. Please read my actual argument again

No, I am not. I am citing the disciples claims as evidence that your argument is completely incorrect. Do you even know what you're talking about?


No, I think that the evidence for Christianity is not “objectively convincing” because I have never encountered any evidence that unambiguously supports it. Meanwhile I encounter a lot of information that converges against it.

Can you read? You think evidence for Christianity is not objectively convincing because YOU have never encountered any evidence that unambiguously supports it. That's exactly what I said. Thanks for agreeing with me.


I assure you that contrary to your imagination I’m neither wiggling or squirming. I think you just don’t know how to respond to thoughtful skeptics because they don’t fall into your ready-made apologetics framework. So, Yeah or Nay? Based on available evidence (and the lack of evidence to the contrary) I would say with high probability or relative certainty that there are myths in the bible. That’s all I need in order to make a judgment (and apparently that’s all you need as well in your dismissal of other religious claims like those found in the Mormonism). Again, virgin births, dying/rising/ascending, apocalypses, global floods, nephilim, divinely commanded genital mutilation, all strike one irresistibly as myth. Similar response goes for 2 and 3.

you are anything but a thoughtful skeptic. You're just another psuedo-intellectual hypocritical atheist. You are wiggling or squirming because you are unwiling to commit to a position, which is wiggling and squirming by definition. For instance, I asked you the following question:
"1. Are you certain that there are myths in the bible? Yes or no?"
I did not ask you:
"what degree of certainty do you possess that there are myths in the bible?"
Hilarious how you cannot answer a single straight forward question.

Theological Discourse said...


You clearly cited the religious “experience of millions of Christians” as evidence. The fact that people have been having virtually identical religious experiences the world over negates your claim.

Yet another instance of your very poor reading comprehension. What claim did I even make and how do the experiences of millions of people negate it? Here is the original quote:

"As for your assertion about conflating speculation to certainty I guess, in addition to being completely devoid of logic, you are also a hypocrite, since you are "conflating speculation to certainty, and then go day-to-day as if nothing in the world challenges that "certainty" (like over 150 years of critical biblical scholarship and everyday experiences by millions of people)."

I brought up the experiences of millions people to show YOU how the experiences of millions of people challenges your "certainty" that the supernatural does not exist. So you were wrong on TWO ACCOUNTS HERE.
1. Assuming the millions of people were Christians only.

2. Assuming the experiences of those people negate my claim.

You can't even comprehend what you're reading.



Nope, actually you mentioned objective evidence in your very response to me. Forgetting what you write as you write it, eh? But let me address your first statement here by addressing what follows:


What a joke you are. So merely MENTIONING the words "objective evidence" equates to ARGUING for objective evidence. Hilarious. Not only that, but you STILL DIDN'T answer the question. Show me where I argued for objective evidence. Back up your weak assertions please. Saying "you mentioned objective evidence in your very response to me" does not equate to showing me where I argued for it. SHOW ME. You really have a problem with providing evidence for your assertions. Furthermore you didn't answer this question:

1.We are not justified in believing it if our experience contradicts it? why? because you said so?


But let me address your first statement here by addressing what follows:

How do a bunch of scriptures refute my criticism of ECREE? or is this another example of your poor reading comprehension.

Theological Discourse said...

About your bible verses. Jesus is discussing 4 things. The destruction of Jerusalem, the Transfiguration, Guilt, and the end times.

Luke 9:27, Mark 9:1, Matthew 16:28 = Transfiguration.

Mark 13:30 and Matthew 24:34 and Luke 21:32 = Destruction of the Temple.

Matt 24: 1-2 = Jesus talking about the Temple.
Matt 24: 3 = Disciples asking about when the destruction of the temple will occur AND when the end times will come. Jesus then proceeds to explain about BOTH OF THEM. Its a very simple exegesis. this generation will not pass away is obviously talking about the destruction of the temple and 'coming with power and glory' is obviously talking about the Transfiguration.

Matthew 23:36 = Guilt, Jesus is talking about the guilt in the current generation.

Matthew 10:2 = The end times whenever they start. No one knows when they do, but Jesus describes what will happen when they do start.

Fig Tree = Destruction of the Temple.

The other epistles I dealt with already, they misunderstood what Jesus said and they were wrong.
"No one knows the time or hour" = exactly that. The disciples thought the 2nd coming was imminent, but it wasn't. The very scripture you copy and pasted shows this. Jesus said "the gospel must first be preached in all nations." Obviously the gospel was not preached in all nations at the time. So your argument completely fails. It is exactly like I said, the disciples got it wrong, but Jesus CORRECTED THEM. Jesus explained it the RIGHT WAY and the disciples didn't understand it, but the CORRECT explanation is there for all to see. Its a very easy exegisis that requires a little logic, historical knowledge of early church history, and good reading comprehension. Its no wonder you don't get it, since you obviously possess very little.

GentleSkeptic said...

Like I said…

Theological Discourse said...


Like I said…

Ya, like you said, you don't know what you're talking about.

GentleSkeptic said...

The other epistles I dealt with already, they misunderstood what Jesus said and they were wrong.

I, for one, am so thankful that, unlike those dense disciples, TD has correctly understood all of the meanings in scripture, and is right.

A huge relief, really.

Theological Discourse said...


I, for one, am so thankful that, unlike those dense disciples, TD has correctly understood all of the meanings in scripture, and is right.

A huge relief, really.

I am also thankful for entertainment ignorant skeptics that can't read the words
"the gospel must be first preached in all nations" and "noone knows the time or hour" provide on a daily basis. The fact that they can't grasp the simple logic of "y cannot happen until x happens therefore if x has not happened than y is not happening," is hilarious. Anyone who thought that the caliber of skeptic that GS and michadelic represent possess coherent logical thought or any argument that poses a threat to Christianity can breath a sigh of relief, a huge sigh of relief really, that all they can muster against a sound logical exegisis is sarcasm. It must suck really bad to be so "sure" that Christianity is bunk and yet fail UTTERLY to the very logic, reason, and critical thinking you claim (falsely) to possess single time you attempt to criticize it. What a sad existence indeed.

GentleSkeptic said...

Yes, it sucks really, really bad.

Can anyone save me?

Theological Discourse said...


Yes, it sucks really, really bad.

Can anyone save me?

I'll just copy and paste this:
all they can muster against a sound logical exegisis is sarcasm.

JD Curtis said...

OT- GS, are you familiar with a group called Bronski Beat?