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#1 Post of 2013 – You Might Be a Hyper-Skeptic of Christianity If . . .

Post Author: Bill Pratt

8294265 very skeptic businessman isolated on white background #1 Post of 2013   You Might Be a Hyper Skeptic of Christianity If . . .After producing the TQA blog for 5 years, we have had hundreds of skeptics comment on our blog posts. With so many skeptics, I’ve seen patterns of behavior that have led me to refer to some of the skeptical commenters as hyper-skeptics. A hyper-skeptic is someone who will not ever consider any evidences, arguments, or reasoning given for Christianity.

For those fair-minded skeptics out there who don’t want to become like this, here are the warning signs I’ve seen. What makes a person a hyper-skeptic? Well, you might be a hyper-skeptic if …

You don’t need to read anything actually written by Christian scholars, because you are just smarter than they are (and you’ve heard it all before).

You think it’s doubtful that Jesus ever lived.

You believe that Christian apologists are lying most of the time.

You actually think that the evidence for a flying spaghetti monster is as good as the evidence for the Christian God.

When you read a blog post written by a Christian, you aren’t reading for understanding; you’re reading to find isolated phrases or sentences that you can attack.

You believe that Antony Flew renounced atheism only because of old age and senility.

You don’t understand theology or metaphysics, but you’re certain it’s just a bunch of made-up mumbo-jumbo.

You almost never agree with anything a Christian apologist writes, even on the most uncontroversial subjects.

You believe that if you ever publicly agree with a Christian, you are contributing to the downfall of civilization.

You are 100% certain that people cannot rise from the dead, and no amount of historical evidence would ever be convincing.

You think that the strength of the historical evidence supporting the stories in the Book of Mormon is roughly equivalent to the strength of the historical evidence supporting the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.

You think that The God Delusion is a tour de force that annihilates all of the best Christian arguments for God.

You think that the Bible contains nothing of value.

There are plenty of fair-minded skeptics that comment on the blog, and I appreciate them (at least I try to). But if you’re a skeptic and you find yourself fitting much of the criteria I’ve listed above, you need to step back and ask yourself why. Why have you become as dogmatic and fundamentalist as the religious folks you like to deride?

If you are a hyper-skeptic, you are not reasonable and you are not thinking clearly when it comes to Christianity.  Take some time off from the blogosphere and figure out why you’ve crossed this line. I sincerely doubt it is a purely intellectual issue.


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Comments

  • sean

    Well, I’d say I fit some of these criteria. But not too many. I think I’d mostly agree with you about that level of skepticism. Obviously we could get into a discussion about the semantics of a precise definition of each word, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I get your general point.

    However, I’d add that while hyper-skepticism may be a bit much, I don’t see how any worldview that doesn’t embrace the skepticism in general isn’t using the tools we understand to be the best way to seek the truth, evidence and reason, is one that people who do care about what is true should embrace. For example, the idea of believing Christianity with no evidence seems like a poor way to go about things if you want truth. I think we’re in agreement there. From your standpoint you still want evidence for God, the difference between the two of us is that you believe you have good evidence and I don’t believe either of us does. Would you agree with that analysis?

  • sean

    There was a time, when I was in the 8th grade or so, that I may have been a “hyper-skeptic.” It’s certainly a line one has to walk. the thing is that while hyper-skepticism isn’t an invalid view, it isn’t a useful one. They are right when they claim that things cannot be known to certain degrees. But that bar simply isn’t a useful bar, because (assuming it is applied evenly outside of religion) it gives us a very narrow view of reality. It’s not wrong, it just isn’t getting at the truth on a useful level.

  • sean

    I think this is a very interesting post. I’d say that skepticism is an interesting and important subject. To be good at being skeptical one needs to look ate both science and philosophy. Empirical data comes from science, and epistemology and logic from philosophy give us the tools to know to what extent we need to be convinced to act on decisions, and what to deduce based on empirical observation. Insofar as science gives us a method to find the empirical and be able to communicate and have standards across persons, philosophy does the same with reason, rationality and critical thinking. These concepts of logic, empiricism and epistemology are what ground sound skepticism. The distinction between being a hyper-skeptic and just a skeptic is, I’d say, epistemology. That’s what tells us how skeptical to be of which claims, and the limit to which skepticism matters.

    If someone were to found a religion that I though was convincingly good at fantastic miracles, like prophecy or something, I may not have an absolute belief in their religion, but you can bet I’ll have a functional one, and that’s what’s important. This applies in the same way that I don’t have an absolute belief in evolution, but I still accept germ theory and get vaccinated. I have a functional belief in the empirical and the conclutions drawn from empirical data. Hyper-skeptical people may be of the opinion that if certain knowledge isn’t absolute it doesn’t matter. That seems a bit extreme to me. It may be true, but that isn’t what informs our actions.

    Just my two cents on the issue.

  • bbrown

    I think that a hyper-skeptic is someone who, presented with enough evidence to cause assent for any reasonable person, will still refuse to assent to that truth, for a host of reasons unrelated to that evidence. In other words, they do not want to know truth.

    As an aside, I’ve noted that hyper-skeptics tend to over-apply logical fallacies, wrongly assigning or assuming a classic fallacy when it was not the case.

    I do think that the degree of skepticism must be commensurately high when it comes to anything as all-encompassing and weighty as one’s faith commitment and world-view narrative. The consequences and life changes are so extreme that one must have a fairly high degree of certainty.

    However, comes a time, IMO, when a decision needs to be made. And as Anselm intimated, faith itself is part of how we gain understanding.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I would agree. Skepticism, in the sense of asking hard questions that demand evidence and logical reasoning, seems quite healthy to me. I have asked skeptical questions of Christianity and I have received solid answers to most of my questions.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I think your definition of a hyper-skeptic is right on target. The criteria I give in my post are the signs I’ve picked up over the years that I am dealing with someone who does not want to know the truth about Christianity, even though they will say over and over again that they do. Their behavior gives them away.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Sean,
    Which of these criteria fit you? I’d be curious to know.

  • sean

    That’s what gets into specifics. I’d say that historical evidence is never a repacement for scientific evicence. By that I mean that while I wouldn’t say 100% no person could rise from the dead three days after he or she died, historical evidence alone is insufficient. It needs to be proven scientifically first before historcal evidence can convince me of a specific instance of it.
    I’d say the God Delusion has pretty darn good arguments for many apologetic arguments, though the book itself is too busy attacking extreme religion as opposed to the moderates that make up most of the population.
    Mostly I’d just say weaker versions of the statements you posed, which I guess would make me a skeptic more tha a hyper-skeptic.
    I’d say that I usually forget to mentin thepoints where I agre with a person, which may make it seem like I always disagree with Christians. And while I don’t thik apologists are lying, I think many people in religion are (though it’s a minority to be sure), faith healers are a good example, though that’s easy.
    I wouldn’t say Flew converted because he was old, but I’d say that he didn’t convincingly explain why his points he previously raised were no longer convincing to him. I think those points he raised were generally good, and his reasons for converting were not equally as good as his other points. So perhaps he converted because you are right and he figured it out, but mostly I think his standard of evidence was lowered dramatically. Perhaps because of his age, perhaps not. Age isn’t really a good reason to dismiss him. That goes to his claims, and those I did find unconvicing.
    I wouldn’t say the Bible has nothing of value, but I would say that it isn’t needed to discover anything of value. There are better ways to discover most, if not all, claims in the Bible I consider valuble.

  • sean

    Oh, and how could I forget, Jesus. Depending on how strongly you want to claim the Jesus in the Bible maps to a real person, definitly I am doubtful of Jesus having lived. I view it as comperable to the King Aurther stories. Proabaly based on a real person or persons, but sufficintly fictional to say neither Jesus nor the King existed.

  • bbrown

    Sean,

    1. You said…”. It needs to be proven scientifically first before historcal evidence can convince me of a specific instance of it.”

    But I think we know that the scientific method can only prove a part of all of reality (I submit it’s a rather small part). It’s methods are limited to physical stuff only.

    2. You said ……..”I wouldn’t say the Bible has nothing of value, but I would say that it isn’t needed to discover anything of value. There are better ways to discover most, if not all, claims in the Bible I consider valuble.”
    Take the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ for example, whereby we are commanded to love our enemies, to bless and to pray for them. How would you discover a principle like that on your own?

    3. Very few serious historians, academics, or scholars who deny that Jesus was a true historical person.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Very few serious historians, academics, or scholars who deny that Jesus was a true historical person.”

    I think you’ll find more serious historians who say there’s not enough evidence to say for sure there was a real Jesus than you’ll find serious biologists who accept ID.

    “Whereby we are commanded to love our enemies, to bless and to pray for them. How would you discover a principle like that on your own?”

    Why would you expect an atheist to accept the value of blessing or praying for people, when we don’t believe either actually makes a difference. If you just want to reduce it to ‘love our enemies’, then I’m not sure exactly what you mean. What form does this love take when we’re talking about, for example, a war between the US and a Middle Eastern country.

    Finally, I see two options here:
    1) You can explain why loving your enemy is a good idea – in which case it’s a principle that could be arrived at through rational thought.
    2) It’s not explainable at all – in which case it’s not a rational concept to start with.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I probably score two on your list.

    At least I’d say that it’s quite possible that Jesus didn’t exist – or at least that the stories we have about him are so changed from reality that it might as well be about a fictional character. It’s possible that an actual rabbi of that name did exist around that time.

    I’m not actually that bothered about whether Anthony Flew had a genuine conversion or was just manipulated as a confused old man – I wasn’t aware of who he was before the conversion anyway. But if you ask my opinion, from what I’ve read it’s quite possible that the latter interpretation is correct.

    Richard Carrier seems to have written much on both – being a ‘mythicist’ and someone who corresponded with Flew to try to get to the bottom of things.

    On the former he wrote this, which I read earlier this week [the rest of this is all copied from him, none of my own words]:

    Paul: [H]ow are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:12-18)

    “Sent” in that last sentence being apostalôsin, the verb form of “apostle.” Paul is thus saying there is no way anyone can ever have heard of Jesus unless they hear it through an apostle.

    This entails they can’t have heard it from Jesus–as for example supposedly thousands of Galilean and Jerusalemite Jews had done (according to the Gospels). Paul is adamant here, and absolute. He thus is not aware of anyone having heard the preaching of Jesus from Jesus himself (except the apostles). Paul therefore has no knowledge of Jesus having a ministry, or preaching to anyone except his apostles. Which Paul only ever says Jesus accomplished by revelation (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:3-8; Gal. 1; 1 Cor. 9:1; Rom. 16:25-27; etc.).

    Indeed, Paul basically says here that it is impossible for anyone to have heard of Jesus (and what he preached) except from apostles (and those who heard it from apostles). In the very first line he says the Jews never even heard of Jesus (or from Jesus, depending on the meaning of the genitive) until the apostles preached him. So even the knowledge that Jesus existed could only be reported by apostles. Paul evidently couldn’t imagine Jews having heard about Jesus from anyone else, like the thousands of supposed non-apostolic witnesses to his ministry, or having heard of Jesus directly from Jesus, such as having seen him and heard him in person, as many Jews of Paul’s day would have… if Jesus existed in the ordinary historical sense.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4573

  • sean

    for 1, what would be an example of this?

    for 2, really? The Sermon on the Mount has some good stuff sure but my point about the Bible is that it’s all jumbled with the bad stuff. This includes The Sermon on the Mount. It’s got plenty of problems.

    It advocates thought crime legislation and tells people to turn the other cheek. Can you imagine what would happen if we really did this? The bullies of the Earth would walk all over us. Hitler would’ve won WWII, and there would be no one standing up against bullies that hurt our children in schools. See, full of bad advice too, all mixed in with the good. That’s the problem.

  • sean

    for 3, based on a person and a person are two different things. I stand by my King Aurthur analogy.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I would agree with bbrown that your epistemology is far too narrow. In addition, you don’t really believe that everything should be proved by empirical science before you’ll believe it. You believe all sorts of things without having seen those things demonstrated by empirical science.

    People are convicted all the time in our courts based on testimony alone. There is just no way to scientifically demonstrate everything.

    You have taken a very useful tool, empirical science, and have tried to use it to solve every problem. There are more tools in the toolbox, and historical testimony is one of them.

  • sean

    well, sure, but that’s what I’m saying. Science proves the general case, and testimony is for a specific instance of it.

  • David Begley

    First time I’ve stopped by the blog. I find it very surprising that people don’t believe Jesus was a real person. From all my reading, I was pretty sure that question had been thoroughly answered. Even people like Bart Ehrman say the evidence is too overwhelming to deny Jesus historical existence. (He doesn’t believe the miracles and the resurrection but not the rest as far as I know.)

  • sean

    It all depends on what you mean by exist. If by exist you mean Bible Jesus is real, that is not agreed upon. But it’s a relatively common assertion that the Jesus of the Bible is at least loosely based on a person or persons. The analogy I use is King Arthur. If you’d say he was real, then Jesus was real. But if being based on a real person is not the same as being a person for you, Jesus also falls under that category. That’s what the consensus is, not that Jesus of the Bible was real.

  • David Begley

    I believe you are wrong on this. I haven’t seen anything from the mythicists that is very convincing (not that I have made a study of it). Bart Ehrman has a whole book where he argues that Jesus was a real historical person in a book called “Did Jesus Exist”. I am only mentioning him because he is a known skeptic. It sounds like your “consensus” leaves out a lot of people who see a historical person.

  • Andrew Ryan

    So what hard facts do we know about Jesus? DOB, place of birth, events in his life, direct quotes…? Any contemporaneous accounts of his life?

  • David Begley

    I know of people who don’t know and/or have no record of their exact dob and place of birth, and yet they do exist.

    I appreciate the comments from skeptics on this article and others on this blog. It has led me to some interesting reading.

    I believe, based on things you can find in books like “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham that the gospel accounts are reliable. I also have books that have over a 100 items mentioned in the books of Luke and Acts that have been confirmed by archeology. Details that someone creating a myth decades later would not get right.

    So from the reliable, eyewitness accounts in the New Testament, I do know a lot about Jesus. I don’t know what his birth date is, but he was born in Bethlehem. We have accounts of his adult life during his ministry, and we have many things he said, although since it is recorded in Greek you might not count those as direct quotes. I don’t know what your standard is on that.

  • sean

    Sure. The fact that he doesn’t have a date of birth doesn’t falsify the idea that he lived. Andrew was just saying that absent other proof, it means we probably shouldn’t believe in his existence. I’m sure you’d agree with that. Where we differ is whether we believe there is a sufficient amount of evidence for Jesus.

    The people who don’t accept this claim are generally of the opinion that the Bible’s account of Jesus doesn’t prove Jesus existed. There are not any contemporary accounts of this man. We are saying that the Bible is a book that there isn’t any reason to believe is accurate. So we look for sources external to the Bible to see if the Bible is accurate. We generally find that to not be the case.

    Now, certainly, if one accepts the Bible’s accounts there’s plenty of evidence for Jesus, but we don’t. Historical scholars don’t either. So now we either need a good reason to trust the authenticity of the Biblical claims about Jesus, or we need sources external to the Bible.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Sean,
    You are definitely way out on the hyper-skeptical spectrum on this issue. I would highly recommend you read “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham, as David suggested. I am guessing from your comments that you have almost exclusively imbibed writings by the most radical and skeptical writers on the historicity of Jesus. You need to balance out your reading list.

  • sean

    The book looks at the New Testament claims. These are claims made by anonymous authors that lived after Jesus died by a good bit. Then a committee decided which among the many accounts of Jesus’ life is considered canonical.

    The only claim to fame Richard has is that he’s a New Testament Scholar. That doesn’t equate to historical scholar. His book works within the framework of the New Testament. I’ve already granted that within that framework the New Testament Jesus lived.

    In fact, Bauckham and are are in almost complete agreement. He agrees with me that operating outside of the New Testament makes Jesus a difficult problem, and I agree with him that within his framework he is correct. The place we disagree is the validity of the framework of the New Testament. That does not make me fringe or radical. The majority of the world disagrees with that framework. Christians are a minority of the world population. The U.S. is an anomaly.

  • sean

    Out of curiosity, have you looked into the Hindu teachings? I ask only because you seem concerned about balance. You see, the thing you forget is this isn’t a simple two way scale. There are many claims, and I’m sure you have not considered the readings of each equally.

    The reason I read your blog is to continue to listen to what people who disagree with me are saying. I do think I learn things from others, and I can only do so by listening. I’m not totally opposed to reading the book, but you are asking me to read it with the expectation that it may have a transformative effect on my views. But this books is built upon what I see as a baseless foundation. That’s the problem. I absolutely understand what the book says. And I agree that it’ll probably follow quite clearly from its base. I absolutely agree with that. But before that book could even begin to change what I think, I’d need to be convinced of the base. And that, from what I have read of reviews, appears to be outside the scope of his book. Even if it’s a part of his book, it cannot be the main subject, as that is something else. I am not skeptical of the validity of the claims, rather I am skeptical of their soundness. You follow me Bill?

    I will say that on my to read list is “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.” That book appears to be laying a base, which I think we can agree is step one. If anyone has a better “base builder” book, I’d love to hear input.

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  • Brandon Hill

    And this is why these kinds of people are also called, “fundy atheists.”

  • sean

    I don’t think my skepticism is unjustifiably strong when it comes to Christian claims. Here’s an analogy.

    If you tell me you have a dog, well yes you could be lying. But, I know dogs are real and people in North Carolina have them as pets. If you say you have a tiger as a pet, I’m going to need some more proof, like maybe calling people for independent verification of your claim, and maybe some pictures. I know tigers exist, and even are kept as pets, but it isn’t common at all. Your word isn’t enough. If you claim you have a green dragon as a pet, well now I’m going to require a really really high burden of proof, and will be very skeptical of your claims. The analogy explains how I feel about various historical figures with respect to a spectrum. I’d say believing Jesus was based on a person or persons is on the level of a dog. Believing an historical Jesus is tiger level, and believing a Biblical Jesus is like the green dragon.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt
  • sean

    Yeah, I agree. Science cannot solve everything. But, I think the proper application of science is that is trumps historicity. Thousands of people claim to have been abducted by aliens, and often times, there’s a general trend in what the claims are. But I don’t think they are correct when they say this because science has not shown alien abduction to be plausible. The same is true of the Jesus claims. Science can observe what the effects of miracles are even if their cause is super-natural. But science has yet to come to the conclusion that three days after a death a man can come back to life. If testimony alone is sufficient to prove something that hasn’t been scientifically proven, I don’t see how your claims are any better than the claims of, say, Islam. They too claim to have accounts of their prophet. The historical evidence is pretty much equally as strong, but you don’t believe that instance. How do you differentiate. I use science first. What’s your method? Don’t say the bible, because that’s begging the question. You’d be just as justified if you said the Koran was your starting point. Unless you can prove the claims of your Bible more than testimony, I’m afraid I see your claims as on equal grounds as several other religions. (I’d not say equal to the flying spaghetti monster or other more recent religions, I understand the difference there.)

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Sean,
    Again, you are displaying hyper-skepticism when you say categorically that the historical evidence for miracle claims of Christianity are equivalent to those of other religions. That is just not factually accurate. This is another reason why you need to do more reading of books like Bauckham’s.

    Whenever a skeptic comes on the blog and makes sweeping statements about all miracle claims having the same historical support, I immediately know that they have read very little about the subject, and that they have decided that miracles can’t happen, so there is no point in reading about the historical evidence.

    This is hyper-skepticism.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “That is just not factually accurate. This is hyper-skepticism”

    Then you’re basically calling all the followers of other religions ‘hyper-skeptics’. At least with regards to Christian claims. And they would presumably call you a hyper-skeptic when it came to theirs. To paraphrase the old saying, atheists are only ‘hyper-skeptic’ with regards to one more religion than you! How many books have you read on the miracles of other religions?

    I wouldn’t say they’re all equal, if only because I can’t claim to have read up on every single religious miracle claim. But they’re all equally dismissed by other religions and accepted by their own.

  • sean

    Really? You think there is extra-biblical historical evidence for the miracles of Christ? I’d love to know what it is, as I’ve not heard any.

  • Don Sciba

    Why to Christian skeptics even frequent a Christian blog? That’s the million dollar question. In my wildest dreams I can not imagine myself hanging around an atheist blog and criticizing atheist posts. I think there may be something seriously amiss with these people.

  • sean

    So you’d rather not have your beliefs and differences challenged and resolved? Don’t you care about looking for the truth and leading others to it? Why in the world would you want to read about stuff you already agree with and know? That seems boring. What is that something that’s amiss with me Don? And why don’t you want to talk with or listen to people who disagree with you. You do that and you get Washington D.C. (not to make this super-political)

    I’ll tell you why I visit. It’s because I value what other people think and how other people act based on what they think. Maybe that isn’t a virtue to you, but it is to me.

  • sean

    Now that I’ve answered, where’s my million?

  • Andrew Ryan

    You might as well ask why Bill bothers posting arguments against atheism, or why you bothered writing your own above post, Don.

    And go to atheists blogs – you’ll find plenty of Christians arguing.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I have studied the miraculous claims of Mormonism (especially origins) and I’ve looked at the miracles attributed to Muhammad in the hadith. They don’t come anywhere close to meeting the standards for reliable eyewitness testimony that the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection do.

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t doubt that miracles occur that are reported outside of any Christian tradition or Christian sources. God does not only intervene supernaturally when devout Christians are standing around to record the event.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Sean,
    It is hyper-skeptical to wipe out all 66 individual books of the Bible, which were written by some 40 different people, and say that none of their writings can be reliable. You keep saying, “The Bible can’t be trusted,” but the Bible is a compilation of 66 different documents. If you are going to look at the historicity of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, you are going to have to study the individual books, and the sources behind those books.

  • Andrew Ryan

    But we know very little about who those authors were. There’s not really any way to check the veracity of their claims.

    If one person wrote one of the books, then another person translated it and made a small change or two, making a particular claim a bit more miraculous, or removing a detail that would have allowed for a non-miraculous interpretation, how would a modern reader be able to tell?

    The original story might have been quite accurate – we may well be able to back up that locations cited were really existent at that time, and other background events mentioned might have other confirmation too. But there’s not really any way of telling that the central miracle in any particular story really happened the way it’s related.

    It’s like those chain letters that I remember from my childhood that are now resurrected (pardon the pun) as chain emails. They often tell stories that are impossible to check. When you google them you find the same story in other chain emails but with minor variations, sometimes the name of an Australian city replaced with a UK one, or less obvious changes.

    Someone originally wrote the story, but other people obviously embellished along the way, perhaps with the best of intentions.

    When you look them up on Snopes they’ll often rate them ‘indeterminate’ because there’s simply no way of testing whether they’re true or false.

  • bbrown

    Andrew,
    This is a lot of speculation on your part. So much has been written about these exact points that you being up, but I sense that you are not doing your homework. You seem almost totally ignorant of the research that contradicts everything you said here. Look at “Why I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” for a bare bones outline of these topics in the chapter on the validity of the texts. Geisler addresses why they can be trusted. There is far more and earlier documentation of the gospels than any other ancient text.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I’ve got a signed copy of that book!

    “There is far more and earlier documentation of the gospels than any other ancient text”

    So what? That doesn’t negate my concerns. I’m not suggested someone made changes to it some time last year.

    “This is a lot of speculation on your part”

    If you’re making claims about miracles, you need pretty solid evidence. As for speculating, what’s more likely here: that accounts got embellished or “The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people”?

  • sean

    39 of those 66 books are old testament. I feel reasonably confident that they don’t have much to say about Jesus. And, yeah none of those claims are necessarily reliable. I’d point back to the idea that many people today claim to have been abducted by aliens.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    So study the 27 books in the NT that do talk about Jesus.

    Let me be blunt for a minute. When you say “none of those claims are necessarily reliable,” this simply betrays the fact that you know very little about the NT documents. Your position lacks any nuance whatsoever, which either means that you are mostly ignorant about the subject, or you are a hyper-skeptic about the NT (meaning you’ve made up your mind for ideological or political or emotional or other reasons) and evidence simply doesn’t matter to you.

    Either way, I think we can take your position on NT reliability with a grain of salt. Your opinion is not to be taken seriously on this topic.

    As for alien abductions, this is a complete red herring. These reports have absolutely nothing to do with the documents written in the first century about Jesus. That just seems obvious. The fact that you are connecting the two together looks completely ad hoc to me.

  • sean

    Sorry. You are right to say I didn’t explain myself well. As stated, my position does lack nuance. Allow me to better explain myself. The nuance is this, these books are all very old and mostly, if not entirely, anonymous.

    I do not deny that the New Testament says some true things. Pilate was real, the city of Bethlehem was an actual place and Romans really did occupy Israel and kill people.

    But the fact that this book has a historically sound setting doesn’t make the claims of things that cannot be independently verified true. I do not claim to have knowledge that Jesus didn’t exist. I’m just saying that the Bible pointing to his existence isn’t sufficiently verifiable. I believe that these stories are possibly based on a person or persons, but all the specific details that make Jesus the Jesus of the Bible cannot be known to apply sufficiently to any one historical figure to consider Jesus more than a tall tale. (From an historical perspective) If you think I am biased more against the claims of Jesus than other historical figures, please point out a figure you think has about as much proof for his or her existence.

    I’ll say again that I agree that people may have existed that Jesus was based on, but I don’t believe any given Biblical claim can be demonstrated as sufficiently true. I suppose we take out the miraculous claims when we consider the historicity of Jesus, right? So what does that mean for Paul’s account of Jesus? Didn’t Jesus reveal himself to Paul as the basis for Paul’s writings and conversion? I just took out a whole book when were arguing from a purely historical perspective. We could do more if you really want.

  • bbrown

    Sean, you said…”I feel reasonably confident that they [O.T. books] don’t have much to say about Jesus”.

    I think that this is the major problem with your epistemology. It’s based too much on your feelings. That’s not a very reliable guide to truth. Most Christians and many Jews agree that the Old Testament has a lot to say about Jesus.

  • AARON SHELENBERGER

    Very well put Bill!

  • sean

    Yet somehow you disagree with all these Jews when they claim this person (the son of God) has not come yet… When you cite the Jews, you do understand that they deny the divinity of Christ, right? I understand that you both say they have something to say about the son of God, or the Messiah if you will, but Jews don’t think that’s Jesus. Nevertheless, if you think the old testament does point out some things about Jesus specifically in a way that Christians agree with Jews, I’d be curious to hear that.

    Much was the key word by the way, I didn’t say none. I’m aware that there is prophecy in the old testament that supposedly points to Jesus, but I am unaware of the Jews agreeing on this subject with the Christians. Isn’t that exactly the distinction between the religions (whether or not Jesus is the son of God)? What do Jews point to as evidence for Jesus in the Old Testament? That’s a claim I have surely never heard before.

  • Andrew Ryan

    You’re playing word games. He feels confident based on his reasoning. That’s not the same as reasoning based on his feelings.

  • Nick Peters

    Only on the internet do you find a large number of people like this who think the historicity of Jesus is still under dispute. Go to the academy and you won’t find it there.

  • bbrown

    My implication is that Sean needs to do some research and not rely so much on vague impressions. It’s difficult to have a serious discussion that way. No word-games here.

    And, BTW, I’m sure Sean can speak for himself.

  • bbrown

    Sean, there is a significant world-wide community of Jewish believers in Christ as the promised Messiah. They see Christ as the fulfillment of the OT promises. They remain Jews, but consider themselves complete and whole now that they have accepted Christ as their saviour.

    Much of reality can be obscured within the limits of a naturalist, empiricist lens. I think of Augustine’s “credo ut intelligam”.

  • sean

    I was not aware of this idea that Jews accept the divinity of Jesus. None of the ones I know do. I mean, aren’t Jews who accept Christ just Christians? By what standard do you delineate between these two religions exactly?

    And I don’t know what you mean by saying that empiricism and naturalism obscure reality. That’s not an idea I understand how to conceptualize based on that explanation. In what way does asking for proof before belief obscure reality. Doesn’t science illuminate reality, and not the opposite? Don’t you use empiricism with every other aspect of your life when you go about investigating reality?

  • Andrew Ryan

    So, Sean can speak for himself, but you feel the need to announce that Sean can speak for himself, and call out others on his behalf who think they can speak for him? Right, that makes sense.

  • sean

    Logic.

  • sean

    This is a curious comment in that I could see it coming from either side of the argument. Do tell, which side are you on?

  • Nick Peters

    It is rightfully regarded as a joke in NT scholarship to say that Jesus never existed or that it should be seriously considered.

  • sean

    When you say Jesus there is some level of ambiguity in the term. At what point do we still consider a person Jesus. Let me give an analogy. If I say that I have found the real Santa, but he’s a chain-smoker that lives in Florida, but he’s the real Santa, you might disagree with me. At what point do we consider the Jesus of the Bible a different person from the Historical Jesus the Biblical accounts are based on? It’s rather obvious with my Santa analogy, but what is your response to the question applied to Jesus. If everything accounted for in his life minus the miracles happened, is that Jesus? If the only thing that happened was that he was nailed to the cross, does that count? Where do you draw the line and where do you think these NT scholars are drawing it when they say Jesus was real?

  • Nick Peters

    Ah. Carrier’s objection. There is no figure in history I know of that we have unanimous agreement on everything about their life, but there are some areas we are fairly certain of with them that aren’t disagreed.

    No one really disputes the time when Jesus lived. He is normally seen as having twelve apostles. He was a Jew who lived by Jewish customs. He was crucified. If anything about Jesus was a sure fact, it would be that He was crucified. Even the idea that his followers claimed to see him alive again after three days is a certainty. Scholars might disagree here and there about certain things he said and did, such as miracles, but that he even existed? No. That is not even talked about seriously in scholarly journals.

  • sean

    Okay. See, I think we agree on what is thought, be we call it different things. You are right that with all historical figures we cannot draw a hard line. But we can draw a rough one. What I see you saying is that there was a person who was a Jew that lived by Jewish customs and was crucified.Sure, there was probably more than one person that fits that definition. I don’t think it’s helpful to call that person the same as the Jesus of the Bible because the Biblical picture adds so much that can’t be confirmed. It’s better to say the Jesus character of the Bible is based on a man. It leads to less confusion to delineate between a historical person that is the base for the Biblical account and the Biblical character.

  • Nick Peters

    I think it’s problematic to assume the historical Jesus cannot be the biblical Jesus. The main reason I think this is said is because of miracles, but why should I think miracles cannot happen? Indeed, having read a massive tome like Keener’s, I am more convinced that they do in fact happen.

    In most other fields, the document is given the benefit of the doubt. In biblical studies, the Bible is treated to a totally different standard than any other ancient work.

  • sean

    In most other fields? Which ones would those be? Certainly not any scientific ones. Science starts with skepticism. Nothing gets “the benefit of the doubt” in science.

    See, this is the problem. The question isn’t why shouldn’t I believe, it’s why should I? That’s how skepticism works. It’s you don’t believe until you have evidence; not you believe until you have evidence that it’s wrong. The default position is to not believe. From that, it takes evidence to change that view.

  • Nick Peters

    Actually, science doesn’t start with skepticism. Science starts with common sense realism. One can be idealist and do science, but it’s a high inconsistency. Science cannot prove the axioms it starts with. Those have to be assumed prior.

    The other fields however are in areas such as if we were studying Tacitus or Josephus or any other ancient work. The ancient work is given the benefit of the doubt. Not so with Scripture.

    And also, you straw man my position. I believe based on the evidence and the lack of counter-hypotheses. For instance, I referred to Miracles. Have you not read it? If not, then I judge that you are in no place to speak on the validity of miracle claims without looking at the most relevant work on the subject.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “. If anything about Jesus was a sure fact, it would be that He was crucified.”

    What evidence do we have for this? ‘Sure fact’ is a strong assertion. Do you view Matthew’s account of the dead saints rising from the tomb after Jesus’ crucifixion as a sure fact?

  • Nick Peters

    The affirmation comes from a number of scholars such as Bart Ehrman, Gerd Ludemann, and John Dominic Crossan. None are evangelical Christians by any means.

    Let’s look at some evidence.

    First off, it is recorded in all four gospels and it is recorded in the Pauline epistles and other epistles that are not Pauline. It is also recorded in Acts and Revelation as part of early Christian tradition.

    Second off, it is recorded by non-Christian sources such as Tacitus, Josephus, and Mara Bar-Serapion.

    Third, it is not a claim that would be made up. In fact, it would be one wanted to be avoided. Crucifixion was the most shameful way to die and to say that your Messiah was crucified was a way of getting people to NOT believe in him.

    Fourth, we have no counter-tradition for any other way in which Jesus died. Even those that held to a more Gnostic view had to explain what happened at the crucifixion.

    As for the raised saints, my upcoming Master’s research is in fact on that passage and if it is historical or if it is apocalyptic. At this point, I have no firm opinion.

  • Andrew Ryan

    So no contemporary accounts outside the bible? If you’re not sure you can trust Matthew on the raised saints, why trust anything else? I’m not convinced by the argument from embarrassment either. It’s worked as an iconic story for 2,000 years.

  • Nick Peters

    So no interaction with the arguments.

    First off, why should the contemporary accounts that we have be disqualified just because they’re the Bible? Do you have any other field where you disqualify historical accounts?

    Second off, why would the Christians make up crucifixion of the Messiah when that was the most shameful form of execution?

    Third off, do you have contemporary accounts of events such as Alexander conquering the world? How many contemporary accounts do you have of Hannibal crossing the Alps? How many contemporary accounts do you have of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.?

  • sean

    Tacitus and Josephus are a far cry from demonstrating that the miraculous occurred. Yeah, I’ve read up on it and those works do not say much even if we ignore that fact that there isn’t consensus even on whether or not some of that is doctored by Christians. Have you read up on it?

    Assertions that the miraculous are possible don’t count as evidence. If I were to say that I have the ability to read minds, and had lots of people backing me up, would you believe me, or would you demand a demonstration of my power? Lots of people believe aliens exist and have abducted people, but you and I agree that they are wrong even though there are a lot of them. (At least, I hope we agree) I’m not saying you don’t have real evidence for the miraculous, but I have yet to see any that’s convincing. People saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.

    As for what you refer to about science, are you really putting that on par with your interpretation of history? Science isn’t based on common sense realism. Really. I promise. If it were, what are we making microscopes for? Our senses alone don’t actually give us an accurate picture of the really small, the really far, or the really big. Your senses didn’t tell you how big the Earth was, measurements did. Now, if you’re talking about solipsism, then yes. Technically we are assuming that reality exists. So what?

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Tacitus and Josephus are a far cry from demonstrating that the miraculous occurred.

    Reply; Good thing I never used them as an argument that the miraculous had occurred. Wanna deal with any more sources I haven’t used for my argument?

    SEan: Yeah, I’ve read up on it and those works do not say much even if we ignore that fact that there isn’t consensus even on whether or not some of that is doctored by Christians. Have you read up on it?

    Reply: Sure have. Most scholars think the Testimonium Flavium is only partially interpolated with some historical information in there and the second citation to Jesus is authentic. This includes the leading Josephus scholars.

    # of Tacitus scholars who think Annals 15.44 is an interpolation? Zero.

    Sean: Assertions that the miraculous are possible don’t count as evidence.

    Reply: Yeah. Wanna deal with any more claims I haven’t made?

    Sean: If I were to say that I have the ability to read minds, and had lots of people backing me up, would you believe me, or would you demand a demonstration of my power? Lots of people believe aliens exist and have abducted people, but you and I agree that they are wrong even though there are a lot of them. (At least, I hope we agree) I’m not saying you don’t have real evidence for the miraculous, but I have yet to see any that’s convincing. People saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.

    Reply: I suppose reading Keener’s book would be like asking Superman to touch kryptonite….

    Sean: As for what you refer to about science, are you really putting that on par with your interpretation of history? Science isn’t based on common sense realism. Really. I promise. If it were, what are we making microscopes for?
    Our senses alone don’t actually give us an accurate picture of the really small, the really far, or the really big. Your senses didn’t tell you how big the Earth was, measurements did. Now, if you’re talking about solipsism, then yes. Technically we are assuming that reality exists. So what?

    Reply: Do you even know what common sense realism is? You even depend on your senses still! Last I checked, when we look in microscopes and telescopes, we are using our eyes. Maybe you use something else instead. I’m sure science would be fascinated to hear about it.

    All common sense realism says is that there is a world outside of your mind and you don’t need to defend that. It is a given. Now if you think that’s questionable, then please start with the basis of idealism and use science alone to demonstrate that idealism is false. It can’t be done.

    So yes, you have to assume the external world exists and you have to assume your senses are generally reliable. You also have to assume that most scientists while possibly being mistaken in their claims are at least honest in their claims. That is an ethical given that is assumed.

    Science is built on a foundation that came far prior to it. It is thus not the end all. It is the best tool for studying the way the natural world works when left to its own devices, but it does not work outside of that.

  • sean

    Clearly we have a bit of a misunderstanding. Lets get things straight. We both agree that science is a tool that works to describe the natural world. It’s also the best tool we have.

    My contention about claims of miracles is that we have no grounds to believe a specific instance of them until they are proven possible in general. For example, we don’t believe that the pyramids of Giza are built by people without first thinking that people can build pyramids. If we don’t believe that, how could we believe people built these ones. The analogous situation would be that we don’t have scientific evidence that miracles occur, so we don’t believe the specific instance of them occurring with Jesus. If the general case can be demonstrated, then historical evidence can tell of a specific instance. But, I don’t see that the general case has been demonstrated.

    That said you seem to be under the opinion that your kryptonite is an authority on this subject, and capable of convincing me of the general case. Or maybe that the general case doesn’t have to be assumed first. Either way, if so, tell me about this book. What’s it called, and what claims does it defend? I’m curious.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Clearly we have a bit of a misunderstanding. Lets get things straight. We both agree that science is a tool that works to describe the natural world. It’s also the best tool we have.

    Reply: Caveat here. It’s the best way of understanding the natural world all things being equal and left to its own devices. This does not include history as history is full of free agents acting constantly.

    Sean: My contention about claims of miracles is that we have no grounds to believe a specific instance of them until they are proven possible in general. For example, we don’t believe that the pyramids of Giza are built by people without first thinking that people can build pyramids. If we don’t believe that, how could we believe people built these ones. The analogous situation would be that we don’t have scientific evidence that miracles occur,

    Reply: This is a category fallacy. Science does not operate to determine what happens with outside forces but only with forces left to their own devices assuming no outside interference. To say otherwise would be to say catching an apple falling from a tree interferes with science. If you want to know if miracles are possible, you go to philosophy. If you want to know if they are actual, you go to history. Science cannot tell you one way or the other.

    Sean: so we don’t believe the specific instance of them occurring with Jesus. If the general case can be demonstrated, then historical evidence can tell of a specific instance. But, I don’t see that the general case has been demonstrated.

    Reply: I suspect you have not looked either. How many miracle claims have you yourself investigated personally? Have you gone to places like Lourdes or others where miracles are claimed to happen abundantly? Have you looked at any faith healers whatsoever?

    Have you also considered that while Hume made an argument, the skeptic John Earman, made a reply in “Hume’s Abject Failure” pointing out, and using Bayesian reasoning might I add, that Hume’s case could stop miracles, but it would also stop science.

    Sean: That said you seem to be under the opinion that your kryptonite is an authority on this subject, and capable of convincing me of the general case. Or maybe that the general case doesn’t have to be assumed first. Either way, if so, tell me about this book. What’s it called, and what claims does it defend? I’m curious.

    Reply: The best way to figure that out is to read it for yourself. Since you don’t even know the title, it shows you are not keeping up with relevant studies. The book is called “Miracles” by Craig Keener, a leading NT scholar and historian, and has over 1,000 pages of information, including a 300_ page bibliography, of miracle accounts, many with medical backing and from eyewitness sources.

    I suspect there will be found a reason to discount it rather than a reason to read it.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    “If you’re not sure you can trust Matthew on the raised saints, why trust anything else?”

    What kind of bizarre standard of testimony are you invoking that says if a person tells me 100 things, and I’m not sure if I I can trust him on one of them, then I can’t trust him on the other 99 things as well?

    That is an insane way to judge the reliability of someone’s testimony. Certainly no historical scholar has ever used that standard. No courtroom. No journalist. Why would you say something like that?

    There are plenty of things you say that I have reason not to trust. Should I, therefore, assume you can’t be trusted on anything?

  • sean

    I don’t quite understand your take on science. Are you saying claims of the miraculous fall outside the scope of science? I’d agree. It’s why I don’t think we have a sound basis to believe in miracles. You then say that philosophy can prove miracles. Maybe, I’m not entirely sure what you’re claiming. But I’m going to tell you I don’t think we should put all that much stock in philosophy. There’s a lot of philosophy I find unhelpful and bunk. That said, there are some branches that are valid and useful. If you could, elaborate on what you mean by philosophy proves miracles possible.

    I think you’re apple analogy is trying to say that science cannot observe the outside (being God) I suppose I agree. But with the apple, my outside is relative to its falling to the Earth. But how do we know that an outside exists with respect to the universe? I remain unconvinced that philosophy can demonstrate this. But I suppose I’m open to what you have to say.

    With regards to the book, it may be a while if it’s that long. (Does that count as an excuse) As a full time student I have things to do. But I’ll look at it. Just not tomorrow. I will though say that, before reading it, I am very skeptical. I think what I’ll find when I look at it is unexplained phenomena that are asserted to be miracles. I doubt within that book lies proof that the cause of the phenomena described was supernatural. I fully expect arguments from ignorance. But I suppose we’ll see.

    If there are indeed actual proofs and not arguments from ignorance, do you think the author would mind if I went ahead and presented it to the James Randy Educational Foundation and claimed their million dollar prize for myself? Here’s the link to their challenge: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: I don’t quite understand your take on science. Are you saying claims of the miraculous fall outside the scope of science? I’d agree.

    Reply: Absolutely. Science can say nothing on the topic. It cannot prove or disprove.

    Sean: It’s why I don’t think we have a sound basis to believe in miracles.

    Reply: Category fallacy. Science is not the highest branch of knowledge. In fact, it’s really one of the lowest.

    Sean: You then say that philosophy can prove miracles. Maybe, I’m not entirely sure what you’re claiming.

    Reply: No. Philosophy can tell you if miracles are possible or impossible. To know if a miracle has happened requires history. Philosophy could tell you X is possible, but saying X is possible does not mean X has happened.

    Sean: But I’m going to tell you I don’t think we should put all that much stock in philosophy. There’s a lot of philosophy I find unhelpful and bunk.

    Reply: That which contains what is unhelpful and bunk is not something we should put stock in.
    Much of philosophy is unhelpful and bunk.
    Therefore, we should not put much stock in philosophy.

    Nice little syllogism. Last I checked, that’s the area of philosophy.

    And now, let me remind you that much of science is also believed one generation and bunk the next. I can accept that. We learn from mistakes and move on. Philosophers do the same. By your standard, we should reject science since there has been much unhelpful and bunk science.

    Sean: That said, there are some branches that are valid and useful. If you could, elaborate on what you mean by philosophy proves miracles possible.

    Reply: Philosophy answers questions such as the existence of God, the question of if matter is all there is, and the topic of what is being and how does it interact, which is metaphysics. I recommend going through Keener’s book where he has chapters on philosophy citing credentialed philosophers.

    Sean: I think you’re apple analogy is trying to say that science cannot observe the outside (being God) I suppose I agree.

    Reply: That’s “your” and yes, science cannot tell you if there is anything outside the system. You could do science in the Matrix just fine.

    Sean: But with the apple, my outside is relative to its falling to the Earth. But how do we know that an outside exists with respect to the universe? I remain unconvinced that philosophy can demonstrate this. But I suppose I’m open to what you have to say.

    Reply: I prefer the five ways of Aquinas. Rather than try to shoot them all down, just go for the first one at the start.

    Sean: With regards to the book, it may be a while if it’s that long. (Does that count as an excuse)

    Reply: Nope. I’m on Goodreads and reading constantly. All it means is it will take a long time to read it, but if one wants to be informed, one tries to read the best. I’ve read long books that I disagree with many many times.

    Sean: As a full time student I have things to do. But I’ll look at it. Just not tomorrow. I will though say that, before reading it, I am very skeptical.

    Reply: I have no problem with skepticism. I encourage it. I have a problem with unreasonable skepticism, such as “God must do a miracle right before my eyes before I believe miracles can happen.”

    Sean: I think what I’ll find when I look at it is unexplained phenomena that are asserted to be miracles.

    Reply: Then you will be found to be wrong.

    Sean: I doubt within that book lies proof that the cause of the phenomena described was supernatural.

    Reply: You’re going to be disappointed. Keener rightly rejects the natural/supernatural phony distinction.

    Sean: I fully expect arguments from ignorance. But I suppose we’ll see.

    Reply: I would advise you that if you want to oppose a God-of-the-gaps, please do so, but don’t at the same time uphold a naturalism-of-the-gaps.

    Sean: If there are indeed actual proofs and not arguments from ignorance, do you think the author would mind if I went ahead and presented it to the James Randy Educational Foundation and claimed their million dollar prize for myself? Here’s the link to their challenge:

    Reply: By all means, but these miracles are also not on demand as it were. No one is ever guaranteed a miracle, as Keener points out. However, why should I accept Randi as an authority on history and/or philosophy?

  • Nick Peters

    Hi Bill, first off, did my reply to Andrew go through? I don’t see it here.

    Second, good to see you here. Saw this thread and thought I’d join in, although fundy atheists do get tiring after awhile.

    If my response didn’t go through, perhaps Andrew would like to tell us about the contemporary accounts of the destruction of Pompeii.

  • sean

    You’re suggesting that the Bible holds up to standards of archeological evidence? We can see the effects of that volcano with archeological investigation. Please demonstrate a flood as told by the Noah story, or that the Jews were enslaved in Egypt or wandered the desert for 40 years.

  • sean

    Fair enough. Allow me to further elaborate when I say science proves the general case and history the specifics. I’ll grant that philosophically, and even scientifically, it is possible that a god of some form exists. But we have no good reason to believe it to be the case. As an analogy, a unicorn could be possible, but we don’t believe that there are unicorns until we have a positive example of one, as opposed to a lack of negative evidence before belief. But I don’t know how you’d ever show a supernatural cause for events.

    That said, if we could prove that the power of Christian prayer has a statistically significant impact on outcomes over other types of prayer, I’d certainly say we should investigate further, because Christianity is on to something, though we’d not know what without that further investigation. But that has not proven to be the case thus far. All scientific studies of this nature have failed to show that.

    I do not hold a naturalism of the gaps view. If I see an unexplained phenomina, I say it’s unexplained and we cannot know either way. However, I can also say that everything we have explained so far has naturalistic causes. A supernatural cause has never been demonstrated. (Again, I’ll read the book, but that’s my current position) It would be reasonable to conclude that this unexplained thing probably has a naturalistic explanation too. But I agree that I cannot assert to know that. It’s just an educated guess.

    I assume by start you mean first cause when you’re (the right usage this time) talking about the five ways of Aquinas. I’m going to go to bed now, but I’ll have a look at it and let you know what I think later.

    The beautiful thing about science is that it doesn’t matter if Randi is a sufficient authority on a subject. We look to the actual work to determine acceptance in science. That said, the answer to your question in a shorter sense is that while he himself is not necessarily a formal expert the people he works with are.

  • sean

    On the assumption of the adequacy of of the claims by Aquinas, I find them all ridiculous. That said, I agree we should start with one.

    I’ll start with the unmoved mover argument, since it’s the first one I read. The structure is patently invalid. One of the premises is that all motion must be preceded by another motion that acts upon it. (That object in motion is referred to as the mover) But the conclusion directly contradicts this claim by positing just such a motion that was not preceded. The conclusion contradicts the premise. In what philosophical branch is this line of reasoning valid? When this happens in a proof we know the proof is wrong, not right.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Andrew Ryan,

    Imagine we were making up a story today about a person committing a crime, but eventually vindicated. (Common in today’s entertainment industry.) Understand, the import is the vindication—not necessarily the crime itself. The crime itself is simply an element of the story. It could be murder, or drugs or kidnapping, or assault or stealing…or any other crime.

    Even in making up a story, what is the one crime you would not utilize in today’s culture? Pedophilia. We have such an abhorrence to such action, even in fiction, we would avoid having our hero perform THAT act, regardless how virtuous or exemplary they eventually become.

    You are not going to make up a story about a child predator becoming a hero.

    Now consider the same stigmatization applied to crucifixion in the first century. Understanding the claim the entire Jesus story is fabrication, the author(s) could have Jesus killed in a variety of ways—stoning, hanging, thrown from a building, beheading, shipwreck, etc. If this was a complete fabrication, there is no limitation. Indeed, one would think stoning or hanging would actually be preferred considering the early authors assigning his death to the Judeans. In other words, utilizing a distinctly Jewish—not Roman—form of execution.

    Why would they use crucifixion? The same way, in our 21st century fictionalized account of a hero we avoid pedophilia due to its cultural notoriety; a 1st century fictionalized account would not utilize crucifixion. It is unnecessary, only creates further complications, and other means (hanging & stoning) provide better story-telling solutions.

    Although I agree the criterion of embarrassment is typically both poorly articulated and poorly utilized, this is one (1) instance where it is applicable. The authors, in telling the story of Jesus, seem stuck with the concept he was crucified. If they were making it up, there are too many other ways better suited to their agenda, and without the unnecessary stigma.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “What kind of bizarre standard of testimony are you invoking that says if a person tells me 100 things, and I’m not sure if I I can trust him on one of them, then I can’t trust him on the other 99 things as well?”

    If we had a witness on the stand, and he placed the accused at the location of the crime, and also said he was pretty sure he saw Elvis there too, or big foot, or indeed a group of saints raised from the dead, do you think his testimony would be seen as credible? I doubt the prosecution would put him forward as a witness in the first place.

  • Andrew Ryan

    DagoodS, if your analogy was an accurate one, that would mean the success of the crucifixion narrative is equivalent to someone starting a messiah religion today around a convicted pedophile, and that religion then gaining many followers quite quickly, growing over 2,000 years to have over a billion followers. I’d find that quite unlikely.

    To put it another way, the very success of the narrative shows that the stigma was not an impediment. The crucifix remains iconic to this day. Christ on the cross was from the start a far more striking image than stoning, or hanging.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Andrew Ryan

    *shrug* Just trying to give an essence regarding the level of disgrace attached to crucifixion in the first century. Something we tend to forget in our post-Christian, cross-on-the-necklace, Easter Passion Play world. As to how quickly or how many converted to Christianity, we have little historical basis to quantify either number beyond fairly significant ranges.

    You are correct– it is difficult to envision a pedophile gaining a following. Yet I find the claims of Scientology, or Heaven’s Gate equally preposterous and they…somehow…manage to gain a following. Christianity offered enough benefits in additions to its limitations (regardless what one considers those limitations to be) to garner some presence in the 1st Century Mediterranean. I am personally convinced (by my methodology) crucifixion is too much of a detriment with not enough benefit (especially in light of the equally sufficient and in many way better alternatives of hanging and stoning) to be completely fabricated.

    If your methodology prevents you from being persuaded, that is fine. Guess you & I will be considered “hyper-skeptic” for differing reasons. *grin*

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Nick,
    As far as I know, every comment you’ve posted has gone through. It is possible Disqus messed up and one of your comments didn’t go through, but I couldn’t find any when I looked.

  • Nick Peters

    I said nothing about archaeology. I spoke about the contemporary accounts of the event. Now you’ve rightfully agreed it happened, and an eruption that destroyed two towns and killed over 250,000 was surely worth a mention. Would you mind telling me what contemporary historians recorded all of this?

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    That’s a completely different scenario than what we have in the Gospel of Matthew. We have the author giving a detailed historical account of Jesus’s life which includes hundreds of individual stories, details, people, places, etc.

    Jesus, who is portrayed as being a wonder-worker, performs all sorts of incredible signs which are seen by multitudes of people. After Jesus dies, we have one report of some people rising from the dead. Did this happen exactly as the author reported? Maybe, maybe not. But from a historian’s perspective, the saints rising from the dead is totally consistent with the miraculous signs reported elsewhere in the narrative.

    Therefore, whether this one story is accurate or not would cast little to no suspicion on the rest of narrative, especially since it was par for the course for ancient historians to report these kinds of supernatural events when someone of great fame died.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Fair enough. Allow me to further elaborate when I say science proves the general case and history the specifics. I’ll grant that philosophically, and even scientifically, it is possible that a god of some form exists. But we have no good reason to believe it to be the case.

    REply: I have at least six. I have the five ways of Aquinas, dealt with elsewhere, and the resurrection of Jesus.

    Sean: As an analogy, a unicorn could be possible, but we don’t believe that there are unicorns until we have a positive example of one, as opposed to a lack of negative evidence before belief. But I don’t know how you’d ever show a supernatural cause for events.

    Reply: As stated earlier, I don’t accept a natural/supernatural dichotomy.

    Sean: That said, if we could prove that the power of Christian prayer has a statistically significant impact on outcomes over other types of prayer, I’d certainly say we should investigate further, because Christianity is on to something, though we’d not know what without that further investigation. But that has not proven to be the case thus far. All scientific studies of this nature have failed to show that.

    Reply: Don’t care about that a bit. I see no way you could measure that and to think someone is in a hospital and no one is praying for them strikes me as ludicrous. Someone knows that person or at least hospital staff making their rounds know of them.

    Sean: I do not hold a naturalism of the gaps view. If I see an unexplained phenomina, I say it’s unexplained and we cannot know either way. However, I can also say that everything we have explained so far has naturalistic causes. A supernatural cause has never been demonstrated. (Again, I’ll read the book, but that’s my current position) It would be reasonable to conclude that this unexplained thing probably has a naturalistic explanation too.

    REply: It’s so amusing to see someone deny a naturalism of the gaps at the start and affirm it at the end.

    So what is the natural cause of existence?

    Sean: But I agree that I cannot assert to know that. It’s just an educated guess.

    Reply: Most gaps supposedly filled were never gaps in the first place. They were actively filled by the first Christian pioneers of science.

    Sean: I assume by start you mean first cause when you’re (the right usage this time) talking about the five ways of Aquinas. I’m going to go to bed now, but I’ll have a look at it and let you know what I think later.

    Reply: Sure

    Sean: The beautiful thing about science is that it doesn’t matter if Randi is a sufficient authority on a subject. We look to the actual work to determine acceptance in science. That said, the answer to your question in a shorter sense is that while he himself is not necessarily a formal expert the people he works with are.

    REply: So you cannot tell me his qualifications in the field that he speaks on? Good! I have no reason to take him seriously then! Thanks!

  • Nick Peters

    Do you know why the narrative was successful?

  • Nick Peters

    This is a mistake a lot of people make when they approach the first way. I think it’s too often because they’ve heard Craig and think this is a variation of the same argument. It’s not.

    For instance, in Q. 46 Art. 2, Aquinas says we cannot know by reason alone whether the universe is eternal or not. He says Christians only know it does by Scripture, and in his day he was absolutely correct! There were no astronomical arguments for the universe having a beginning.

    So is he forgetting his five ways? No. Aquinas may be wrong, but he is no fool. The difference is a regress per re and a regress per accidens.

    A chain per accidens is like this. My wife and I have no children now. Suppose before that time ever comes, both of our parents die in car accidents, plane crashes, sickness, what have you. Either way, we have no parents on the scene.

    Are we incapable then of having children? Not at all. Our ability to bring in the next generation has no continual dependence on the previous generation.

    Now for a regress per re.

    My wife is also an artist. Suppose she was learning to paint and was at the easel painting with the brush. Her phone rings so she lets go of the brush. Will it stay in the air painting while she’s away or stop? It will fall to the ground immediately.

    The movement of the brush is continuously dependent on the movement of her hand. In turn, the spreading of paint is dependent on the moving of the brush and the moving of her hand is dependent on her moving her arm which is dependent on her will.

    Aquinas is talking about a per re chain here and not a per accidens one. If there is a chain of continuous dependence, there has to be something not dependent. Otherwise, all you have is instrumental cause with no one causing the instruments to move. Instrumental causes are always intermediary causes. The question then is “What is the terminus at the start of the chain?” It is a mover that itself is not moved. If it was moved, it would be part of the chain.

    If someone wants to understand the Thomistic arguments, the best route would be to go with Edward Feser’s “Aquinas.”

  • Andrew Ryan

    For what it’s worth, I respect your opinions a lot, so will give this some more thought. I’m not dogmatic on this point, and haven’t made my mind up. It’s quite possible that denying the existence of Jesus (beyond saying that there might have been SOME man of that name around that time) might be an absurd position. But I’d like to hear the response of people like Carrier to the ‘crucifixion’ argument you present above. At the moment I’ve only heard your side.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    In case you didn’t know already, Carrier would respond as follows: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/improbable/crucified.html

  • sean

    “There were no astronomical arguments for the universe having a beginning.” To some extent this is still true. We need to differentiate between the current universe and the entirety of reality. We don’t know what happened before the big bang, so we label that the start of this universe. But that doesn’t mean there was necessarily nothing before it. We still have the possibility of the infinite regress. So if he only knew the start of reality by scripture, we still don’t have scientific proof of an absolute start. There is still mo extra-biblical evidence for that.
    I think you’ve kinda create a false dichotomy with your chain reactions. The universe depends on God persistently enforcing the rules? That seems to be where your analogy leads.

  • sean

    I’m saying that we can believe that it happened based on archeological evidence. That would be good enough for Biblical accounts as well. There is more than one way to confirm an event. Andrew would be receptive to other types of evidence, but since you offered historical evidence, contemporary accounts really help bolster a case. Andrew is not saying that all historical things have to be recorded. He’s saying that if you look to recorded events, it matters when it was written with respect to when the thing happened.

    You are right to think that commentary accounts are not entirely vital, but that’s because we have other valid sources to pull information from. When a volcano erupts, it leaves a layer of ash. We found the ash.

  • sean

    “I have at least six. I have the five ways of Aquinas, dealt with elsewhere, and the resurrection of Jesus.”

    Okay, if those arguments prove valid and sound then we have good evidence. That would be why we are talking about them. I’ve yet to be convinced by any of them though.

    “As stated earlier, I don’t accept a natural/supernatural dichotomy.”

    Fine, so since there is no dichotomy, these are theoretically scientifically testable, and therefor fall into the realm of science.

    “Don’t care about that a bit. I see no way you could measure that and to
    think someone is in a hospital and no one is praying for them strikes me
    as ludicrous. Someone knows that person or at least hospital staff
    making their rounds know of them.”

    That’s what the scientific method is about, coming up with a way. Just because you don’t see a way doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    “It’s so amusing to see someone deny a naturalism of the gaps at the start and affirm it at the end.”

    Do you understand the difference between ‘I don’t believe x is the case’ and ‘I do believe x is not the case’?

    “Most gaps supposedly filled were never gaps in the first place. They
    were actively filled by the first Christian pioneers of science.”

    What? You just said they were filled. You mean that when science thought they were gaps someone else already had an explanation? Sure. People can have an explanation before science has an opinion. Spontaneous generation was a thing before the scientific tests that disproved it. But just because a belief was actively asserted doesn’t mean the person asserting it had good grounds for believing it. Same goes if they happened to be right. The Christians either used science to prove it, or believed these things without good reason, and happened to be right. But if I guess the number you’re thinking it doesn’t mean I had a good reason to think it was that number. It means I got lucky.

    “So you cannot tell me his qualifications in the field that he speaks on?
    Good! I have no reason to take him seriously then! Thanks!”

    My point was that ideas matter, not who says them. If the tests are valid then they are valid. It does not matter at all who performed them so long as the method works. Ideas stand or fall based on their own merit in science. Nothing is accepted on the basis of authority. The best scientist in the world still has to prove he is right before it is accepted. And even if you have no qualifications, that doesn’t force you to come up with the wrong answer. We look to the method of the work. You should not accept his ideas because he is an authority, I agree. But that applies to any person, even Keener.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Thanks. What do you think of that then? Passages like this:
    “And this idea of a suffering, executed god would resonate especially with those Jews and their sympathizers who expected a humiliated messiah. Jewish scripture declared that “The Redeemer of Israel” or “The Holy One of God” shall be “despised” by men, and nations will be “disgusted” with him, yet he shall triumph;[13] the people will “bury him with the wicked” even though he was innocent, and he shall be “numbered with the transgressors” just as the Gospel of Mark says.[14] The idea that a Chosen One of God must suffer total humiliation and execution at the hands of the wicked is a major theme in Isaiah.[15] Even David, a common prototype of the Messiah, sings in Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” for “I am a worm” and “a reproach to men, despised by the people” and “all that see me laugh and scorn.” This song set up a Jewish model for a crucified Davidic savior.[16]

    The pre-Christian text of the Wisdom of Solomon also declares that the wicked will “condemn to a shameful death” the holiest man of God, because they are “blinded by their wickedness” and “do not know the secret purposes of God” and it is said this righteous man, “a son of god,” who is given a shameful execution will be raised and exalted by God to avenge his own death.[17] This was a lesson that would automatically apply to the Messiah, who would be, by definition, a blameless and righteous man. And we have evidence it probably was understood by some in just this way, for the preeminent prophecy of the coming Messiah declares this very fate:

    The anointed one shall be utterly destroyed yet there is no judgment upon him, then the city and the sanctuary will be torn down by the ruler who shall come. They will be knocked down in a cataclysm, until the end, when after war wreaks havoc there will be a systematic extermination. (Daniel 9:26)”

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Andrew Ryan,

    First, to clarify my “*shrug*”—I did not mean it in a dismissive way; more to demonstrate how motivated I was to convince you one way or another. I am persuaded there is a human at the historical core of Jesus—but I understand how one can be convinced otherwise.

    Also, this was the closest I could find Richard Carrier talking about crucifixion shame—he may have dealt with my position elsewhere. And we are dealing with slightly different issues. Carrier is answering the claim, “Would anyone follow a crucified savior/Messiah?” and I am questioning, “Would anyone make up a story including a crucifixion?” Even Jesus-mythers get caught up, at times, considering Jesus claims as historical.

    Look, a truly mythical Jesus means the story originator could make up anything they wanted.* He could be 5, 15 or 50. From Perea, Galilee, Judea, Alexandria, etc. He could say anything, do anything, be anything.

    *There would be some parameters. He would be male, Jewish, likely a Davidic descendent, and other parameters within the Jewish culture of the time.

    Now assume our story-originator DID want Jesus to be humiliated, despised, forsaken, condemned and die a shameful death. Why not hang him? “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Deut. 21:23. Gal. 3:13. This would explain the whole humiliation and shameful death quite nicely. Every single point raised by Carrier is satisfied by hanging.

    More importantly, it satisfies the concept of Jewish responsibility; Jews could hang. The first New Testament writing places the blame squarely on the Jews—1 Thess. 2:15. In fact, the later Gospels are forced to do a bit of back-tracking to make certain the Jews retain the blame, not the Romans. “Let his blood be upon us.” Matt. 27:25. Pilate washing his hands; declaring Jesus innocent. Pilate placing the sign on the cross.

    But crucifixion in the 1st Century was exclusively Roman—never ever Jewish. If our story-originator was concerned about Jewish responsibility…but not Roman responsibility…and wanted a humiliating death—hanging is just the ticket! Plus it avoids the crucifixion stigma I’ve previously mentioned.

    Reading the New Testament documents, in chronological order, makes it more likely (under my methodology) the writers were saying, “Crap. We have a crucified person. We have to:

    1) Explain this is not humiliating, but glorifying;
    2) Justify while (reluctantly) Roman, it is REALLY the Jews behind the sordid affair.”

    As compared to, “Let’s make the whole thing up. We’ll have him crucified, even though this will cause fits later when we try to blame the Jews, and hanging is sufficient for the reasons we want him humiliated.”

  • Andrew Ryan

    You seem to be discussing more Jesus as deliberate invention rather than Jesus as myth. The latter allows more for a tale growing organically: exaggeration, embellishment, encorporation of other stories, mistakes in re-telling, confusion over details etc.

  • sean

    Because people believed it?

    What are you looking for in an answer exactly? What are you asking to have explained?

  • Nick Peters

    I don’t really care if the universe had a beginning or not. My argument works just fine with an eternal universe as does Aquinas’s.

    The argument ends with an unmoved mover that is a being of pure actuality, much like Aristotle’s. To show it is wrong, you have to show the flaw in the reasoning. Not just say you don’t like the conclusion.

  • Nick Peters

    Well this was a major event. A volcano erupted and killed 250,000 people and buried two major towns.

    How many contemporary sources do we have that mention this major event?

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Okay, if those arguments prove valid and sound then we have good evidence. That would be why we are talking about them. I’ve yet to be convinced by any of them though.

    Reply: From what I saw of Aquinas, you didn’t really have an understanding of it. Sorry, but it’s the truth. That’s only on one way.

    Sean: Fine, so since there is no dichotomy, these are theoretically scientifically testable, and therefor fall into the realm of science.

    Reply: It does not follow. The Thomistic arguments are metaphysical and not scientific. It is a mistake of moderns to think everything is scientific.

    Sean: That’s what the scientific method is about, coming up with a way. Just because you don’t see a way doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    Reply: Science only deals with phenomena that is regular and repeatable and involves material agents. Something that involves free-will and immaterial agents is outside of the realm of science.

    Sean: Do you understand the difference between ‘I don’t believe x is the case’ and ‘I do believe x is not the case’?

    Reply: Yep.

    Sean: What? You just said they were filled. You mean that when science thought they were gaps someone else already had an explanation? Sure. People can have an explanation before science has an opinion.

    Reply: No. I said supposed. There were of course gaps in knowledge but they were never plugged in with “God did it!” The medievals always tried to give scientific answers. Even if they were wrong, they tried to give scientific answers. When Kepler and Newton made their laws, they didn’t think “Well God’s got less of a job now.” On the contrary, they saw Him as more glorious.

    I recommend God’s Philosophers by James Hannam and also Galileo Goes To Jail edited by the agnostic Ronald Numbers. The myth of the warfare between science and religion is just that, a myth.

    Sean: Spontaneous generation was a thing before the scientific tests that disproved it. But just because a belief was actively asserted doesn’t mean the person asserting it had good grounds for believing it. Same goes if they happened to be right.

    Reply: Correct.

    Sean: The Christians either used science to prove it, or believed these things without good reason, and happened to be right. But if I guess the number you’re thinking it doesn’t mean I had a good reason to think it was that number. It means I got lucky.

    Reply: The Christians were active promoters of science. I don’t speak about the nature of their findings. I’m not a scientist. I study history instead and I speak about them as history.

    Sean: My point was that ideas matter, not who says them.

    Reply: Right, but it’s also important that people speak in their areas of expertise. I want someone who has real credentials to be the person I cite.

    Sean: If the tests are valid then they are valid. It does not matter at all who performed them so long as the method works. Ideas stand or fall based on their own merit in science. Nothing is accepted on the basis of authority. The best scientist in the world still has to prove he is right before it is accepted. And even if you have no qualifications, that doesn’t force you to come up with the wrong answer. We look to the method of the work. You should not accept his ideas because he is an authority, I agree. But that applies to any person, even Keener.

    Reply: Keener is a valid authority however since he studies historiography and thus knows how to piece together testimony from sources. Also, where he speaks out of his area, the sections on philosophy, he quotes leading philosophers profusely.

    I really remain skeptical of sensationalists on both sides.

  • Nick Peters

    No. That’s a redundancy. The narrative was successful indeed because it was believed, but why was it believed? What convinced people Jesus who was crucified under Rome and thus also the curse of YHWH was the Messiah?

  • sean

    What exactly are you implying with the word “being”?

    I’ll point out that I don’t need to show it’s wrong. I just need to show it isn’t right. Additionally, the premises of the argument are another viable area of scrutiny. But I think we should deal with the validity first.

    Your explanation for the problem to my objection isn’t something I quite get just yet. What exactly is the conclusion with respect to how it relates to god? As I currently understand it, I don’t agree that your wife is the absolute terminus of dependency on that brush’s movement, nor the painting’s creation. What really defines the terminus? After all, your wife is an entirely dependent material object. She’s not an absolute endpoint any more than the brush. Calling her the terminus to the chain is relative and seems arbitrary.

  • sean

    “From what I saw of Aquinas, you didn’t really have an understanding of it. Sorry, but it’s the truth. That’s only on one way.”
    Yeah, I’d guess you think that. That’s why we disagree about them. If you thought I did understand them properly and could conclude them to be false, you’d be agreeing with me. Since you are not, I understand that you don’t think I understand them. We are on the same page here.

    “The Thomistic arguments are metaphysical and not scientific. It is a mistake of moderns to think everything is scientific.” and “Science only deals with phenomena that is regular and repeatable and
    involves material agents. Something that involves free-will and
    immaterial agents is outside of the realm of science.”

    I happen to not necessarily believe in free will, but that’s a whole other argument. I also don’t necessarily believe any ‘immaterial agents’ exist. You’d have to explain what you mean by that. The Christian god? If he interacts with reality, that’s theoretically testable. Why then, do you assert that he is necessarily outside the realm of science?

    “Right, but it’s also important that people speak in their areas of
    expertise. I want someone who has real credentials to be the person I
    cite.”

    Sure. He is an authority on me getting a million dollars. I’ll cite him on that front.

    “No. I said supposed. There were of course gaps in knowledge but they
    were never plugged in with “God did it!” The medievals always tried to
    give scientific answers. Even if they were wrong, they tried to give
    scientific answers. When Kepler and Newton made their laws, they didn’t
    think “Well God’s got less of a job now.” On the contrary, they saw Him
    as more glorious.”

    Alright. I understand.

    “I recommend God’s Philosophers by James Hannam and also Galileo Goes To
    Jail edited by the agnostic Ronald Numbers. The myth of the warfare
    between science and religion is just that, a myth.”

    I agree. The two can exist side-by-side. This is demonstrated in your examples, as well as commentary ones like Francis Collins.

  • Andrew Ryan

    They believed it because the wanted to, presumably. Why does any religion take off?

  • Andrew Ryan

    If an eternal God is possible then so is an eternal universe. If the latter is possible then the former is not required.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: What exactly are you implying with the word “being”?

    Reply: Nothing. I’m just talking about being. In Thomistic thought, existence is fundamental.

    Sean: I’ll point out that I don’t need to show it’s wrong. I just need to show it isn’t right. Additionally, the premises of the argument are another viable area of scrutiny. But I think we should deal with the validity first.

    Reply: You haven’t even shown that it’s not right yet.

    Sean: Your explanation for the problem to my objection isn’t something I quite get just yet. What exactly is the conclusion with respect to how it relates to god? As I currently understand it, I don’t agree that your wife is the absolute terminus of dependency on that brush’s movement, nor the painting’s creation. What really defines the terminus? After all, your wife is an entirely dependent material object. She’s not an absolute endpoint any more than the brush. Calling her the terminus to the chain is relative and seems arbitrary.

    Reply: A paintbrush is an instrumental cause. It does not cause motion in itself. Its motion is dependent on another. Why do I stop with her? Because she’s a free-will agent, even though technically, she has motion as well as she is moved by the good.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Yeah, I’d guess you think that. That’s why we disagree about them. If you thought I did understand them properly and could conclude them to be false, you’d be agreeing with me. Since you are not, I understand that you don’t think I understand them. We are on the same page here.

    Reply: No really. You don’t. In my philosophical training, I studied the arguments on the Master’s level. The objection is one of someone who is unfamiliar with medieval thought and the way Aristotlean categories would be used. One needs to understand Aristotle’s four causes, the two the medievals made, and such ideas as potentiality, actuality, and motion as used back then.

    Sean: I happen to not necessarily believe in free will, but that’s a whole other argument. I also don’t necessarily believe any ‘immaterial agents’ exist. You’d have to explain what you mean by that. The Christian god? If he interacts with reality, that’s theoretically testable. Why then, do you assert that he is necessarily outside the realm of science?

    Reply: Why should I think that’s theoretically testable? No one can force a free-will agent to act. If you throw a stone, the stone must obey laws of physics. My body must obey those laws as well, but does that mean my person must?

    Sean: Sure. He is an authority on me getting a million dollars. I’ll cite him on that front.

    Reply: But not on the area.

    Sean: I agree. The two can exist side-by-side. This is demonstrated in your examples, as well as commentary ones like Francis Collins.

    Reply: You gotta stop saying commentary when you mean contemporary.

  • Nick Peters

    Why would they want to? That would be identifying with a crucified Messiah meaning you were signing up to be seen as a traitor to Rome and under the curse of YHWH. You were signing up for shame and ostracism and the mystery religions offered far better benefits!

  • Nick Peters

    No. I’m entirely fine with an eternal universe. So is Aquinas. It still needs something for it though because the universe does not contain within itself the cause of its own existing. After all, it is in motion and whatever is in motion is being moved by another.

  • sean

    Why would Andrew know that? Shouldn’t you be the one to answer that seeing as how it’s Christians, like you, that actually think it.

  • Nick Peters

    Because he’s making a case just as much as I am. Has he thought through his position? I think not.

  • sean

    His case is that evidently it didn’t serve as a hindrance since it worked. That’s self-evident.

  • sean

    How do you know the universe doesn’t have this ability?

  • Nick Peters

    Because it has potential and thus is part of the chain of potentiality and actuality.

  • Nick Peters

    Actually, it did. The movement grew gradually and did so under great persecution. Again, what was the motivator? They wanted to believe it? Why?

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com/ DagoodS

    Andrew Ryan,

    I have never seen a model in myth-development whereby Jesus’ death by crucifixion (as compared to other means, such as hanging, stoning, etc.) came about by exaggeration, embellishment, mistake or confusion. More importantly, if a Jesus-myther’s position there is no person whatsoever at the historical core, then at some point crucifixion HAD to be fabricated. His entire birth, life, statements and death were made up…why would exclude crucifixion?

    But if one is claiming there IS a person at the historical core—it would seem to me the most likely position would be that person was crucified. Why not?

  • sean

    Your terms Nick! They’re gibberish.

    For starters, I missed where you explained that the universe is in motion. That is meaningless. That’s like saying numbers can move. What is doing or moving without the material? Moving describes a shift in the material world with respect to something else in the physical world. How do things (like the universe) that lack physicality move?

    Second, if God is just actual with no potential, then he cannot effect change. Isn’t that your term for potential, that it can become something else? So if God cannot change, then how does he get from a state of not creating the universe to creating it? That’s a change. How does a changeless being effect change Nick?

    I don’t see that you are using terminology in a consistent or clear manor. In what sense does the universe have potential. Does the number 4 have potential? As I see it, the abstract doesn’t have this property. By the way, it also doesn’t have the property of being actual, since numbers are abstract, so you’ve created a false dichotomy from the start.

  • sean

    “A paintbrush is an instrumental cause. It does not cause motion in
    itself. Its motion is dependent on another. Why do I stop with her?
    Because she’s a free-will agent, even though technically, she has motion
    as well as she is moved by the good.”

    This still isn’t logical. The brush does indeed cause motion. If a rock falls and pushes another rock, that first rock moved the second. The brush moves the paint. Now, was that brush’s motion contingent on other motion, yes. It was contingent on your wife’s motion. But your wife’s motion is similarly contingent. It just happens to be a more complex relationship.

    Again with terms. She’s moved by the good? That’s meaningless as a statement. What’s the good exactly that’s moving her? I think you may be conflating two definitions because they happen to share a verbal and written means of identification in English. There’s a physical type of move, and a more spiritual one, that I think you’re using here. (since good is abstract and does no physical moving) Your chains then make no sense, because you’re using these moves interchangeably in them. But that isn’t something you get to do. That’s cheating. If I talk about effect, it’s spelled the same way as effect. But they are different. One definition is about cause. I can effect change, or cause a change. The other effect is about how an affect, or effect, altered a thing. The statement “the effects of the effected change are drastic” isn’t using the same word twice. They are different, just as your ‘move’ is different.

  • sean

    There was a great analogy made by DagoodS with Scientology. I assume you think Scientology was a fabrication. The question is, why make such ridiculous claims, as they serve to hinder the following. Well, sure, but they clearly don’t hinder it enough. Andrew and I would find the situation of Scientology, and someone making up the crucifixion story as analogous examples.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Yup.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Your terms Nick! They’re gibberish.

    Reply: Let’s see. Should I go with leading scholars in philosophy or go with you? Decisions, decisions.

    Sean: For starters, I missed where you explained that the universe is in motion. That is meaningless.

    Reply: No. This is why I said you need to understand motion in the medieval sense, not the scientific sense.

    Sean: That’s like saying numbers can move. What is doing or moving without the material?

    Reply: Aquinas believes in angels which even if you don’t, you know he does and they are by nature immaterial and he says they are in motion. Therefore, motion does not apply to just the material.

    Sean: Moving describes a shift in the material world with respect to something else in the physical world. How do things (like the universe) that lack physicality move?

    Reply: You’re using a modern notion of motion. You’re not using the kind Aquinas was using. You cannot substitute a modern meaning of a term to replace the medieval meaning.

    Sean: Second, if God is just actual with no potential, then he cannot effect change. Isn’t that your term for potential, that it can become something else?

    Reply: No. This is the difference between active potentiality and passive potentiality. God cannot be the recipient of change as He has no passive potential, but He does have active potential in that He can act in a way without changing His nature.

    Sean: So if God cannot change, then how does he get from a state of not creating the universe to creating it? That’s a change. How does a changeless being effect change Nick?

    Reply: This implies that God is in time. That’s not my position. God is in fact eternally doing whatever it is that He is doing. In Thomistic terms, He is the cause of motion in that He causes other things to move actively, but He Himself is not moved by anything else.

    Sean: I don’t see that you are using terminology in a consistent or clear manor. In what sense does the universe have potential.

    REply: It might help if you actually learned the medieval terminology before speaking out about it. Those who do not know should not speak.

    Sean: Does the number 4 have potential? As I see it, the abstract doesn’t have this property. By the way, it also doesn’t have the property of being actual, since numbers are abstract, so you’ve created a false dichotomy from the start.

    Reply: Only if I say the number 4 exists. That’s a Platonic idea. It’s not one that I accept.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: This still isn’t logical. The brush does indeed cause motion. If a rock falls and pushes another rock, that first rock moved the second. The brush moves the paint. Now, was that brush’s motion contingent on other motion, yes. It was contingent on your wife’s motion. But your wife’s motion is similarly contingent. It just happens to be a more complex relationship.

    Reply: Correct. All analogies break down at some point. Still, the point of instrumental causes still stands.

    Sean: Again with terms. She’s moved by the good? That’s meaningless as a statement.

    Reply: No. Saying you don’t understand a statement does not mean it is meaningless. That’s typical fundamentalist atheist hubris.

    Sean: What’s the good exactly that’s moving her?

    Reply: Every person’s will is actively done seeking good. Any time you do something, you do it because you are seeking something that you perceive as a good. Even the suicide does this or else he wouldn’t be committing suicide.

    Sean: I think you may be conflating two definitions because they happen to share a verbal and written means of identification in English.

    Reply: I think you may lack understanding of medieval terminology and are imposing a modern worldview on a medieval argument, well, except for I’d axe the may.

    Sean: There’s a physical type of move, and a more spiritual one, that I think you’re using here. (since good is abstract and does no physical moving) Your chains then make no sense, because you’re using these moves interchangeably in them.

    REply: Perhaps you should understand medieval motion, but that might be asking too much.

    Sean: But that isn’t something you get to do. That’s cheating. If I talk about effect, it’s spelled the same way as effect. But they are different.

    REply: And therefore it is cheating to take a modern idea of motion and use it instead of the idea that was meant by the word at the time. PLease stop cheating.

    Sean: One definition is about cause. I can effect change, or cause a change. The other effect is about how an affect, or effect, altered a thing. The statem ent “the effects of the effected change are drastic” isn’t using the same word twice. They are different, just as your ‘move’ is different.

    Reply: Correct, and my use of motion is consistent with the medieval understanding. Yours isn’t.

  • Nick Peters

    Well let’s look at the differences. If you want to compare two things, you don’t look at how they’re the same so much as you look at how they’re different.

    Christianity began in an agonistic society and one that did not really speak much about the good of the individual or the individual seeking their own good.

    Christianity began in continuation with the Judaism of the time.

    Christianity was in fact rooted in the Judaism of the time, particularly in Second Temple Judaism.

    Christianity placed extreme moral demands on the people who joined it.

    Christianity had a shameful figure as the figurehead of the time.

    Christianity had a number of embarrassing claims about it that had to be sold to the least willing audience, such as the idea of bodily resurrection and a crucified Messiah.

    Christianity was not offering much different from the pagan religions of the time.

    Christianity was sure to result in shame and mockery if not physical persecution.

    Christianity’s founders had nothing to gain from the movement. There was no power, money, or sex involved.

    Christianity arose in a culture where new ideas were shunned.

    Christianity also arose in a culture where you had to show devotion to the leading system of the time. You could come up with a belief if you were willing to incorporate the Roman gods into it.

    That’s just a start.

    Meanwhile, scientology rose in a modern live and let live culture that tolerated new ideas where the founder had much to gain such as power, sex, and money, and the belief allows someone to get a little bit of spirituality it and go about their day. They themselves do gain something from it.

  • sean

    Would you give up your belief in God if you were mercilessly persecuted for it by society? They followed the religion because they thought it was right. That’s why people believe stuff.

    “Christianity placed extreme moral demands on the people who joined it.”

    I’m pretty sure you don’t understand how forgiveness works. You see, Judaism had hard commands. Christianity lifted the practical ones, and imposed a moral guide. But the guide isn’t 100% binding. A killer can get into heaven in your religion as long as he repents to Jesus. You call that ‘strict moral demands’? The only unforgivable sin in your religion is to not believe in it.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Would you give up your belief in God if you were mercilessly persecuted for it by society? They followed the religion because they thought it was right. That’s why people believe stuff.

    Reply: Bingo. They thought it was right. Now what would it take to convince someone that a crucified criminal was the Messiah?

    Sean: I’m pretty sure you don’t understand how forgiveness works. You see, Judaism had hard commands. Christianity lifted the practical ones, and imposed a moral guide. But the guide isn’t 100% binding. A killer can get into heaven in your religion as long as he repents to Jesus. You call that ‘strict moral demands’? The only unforgivable sin in your religion is to not believe in it.

    Reply: Correct. A killer can? Will they? Not likely. Why? Because every action you take makes your will more inclined to move in that direction again. If you overeat one time, you are more inclined to do so the next time. If you look at pornography one time, you are more inclined to do it again. If you instead do things like give money to the poor and help at soup kitchens, you’re more inclined to do those things. If you are living your life in rebellion against God, you’re more inclined to keep doing that.

    Yes. Someone can receive forgiveness. Would you have it any other way? Do you think forgiveness should be earned? It wouldn’t be much of a grace system then. Note also that even if forgiven, that person comes to God with pretty much empty hands. Their reward is meager.

    Also, Christianity lifted the cultic, civil, and ceremonial demands of the Law, but for the moral demands. It went harder. Look at Jesus’s teachings on divorce. The strictest teaching at the time of Jesus was that of the Essenes. These guys thought the Pharisees were wimps when it came to the law. That’s how strict they were.

    Jesus was even stricter than the Pharisees.

    Judaism says don’t murder. Good! Jesus says don’t have anger towards your brother. Judaism says don’t commit adultery. Good! Jesus says to not look at another man’s wife with lust.

    And also, easy believism was not the thing back then. In fact, before you were given full membership into a church, you generally underwent strict training for the longest time prior to baptism and if you stepped out of line, you were shunned by the community.

    I do understand forgiveness, but it seems you do not understand Christianity or Judaism.

  • sean

    “Bingo. They thought it was right. Now what would it take to convince someone that a crucified criminal was the Messiah?”

    Depends on the person. Nowadays indoctrination is often sufficient. I don’t know what others’ standards are entirely, but they are a lot lower than mine.

    “Do you think forgiveness should be earned? It wouldn’t be much of a
    grace system then. Note also that even if forgiven, that person comes to
    God with pretty much empty hands. Their reward is meager.”

    Isn’t their reward heaven? Seems pretty great to me. And yeah, I do think it should be earned. I agree it’s not much of a grace system, and I don’t really like the grace system. If you wrong someone, you should make amends with them, not a third party like Jesus. If we had grace in the American justice system, we wouldn’t lock up the killers. That seems like a poor idea.

    “Jesus says don’t have anger towards your brother.”

    Yeah, that’s problematic. See, when my ‘brother’ which is generally interpreted to mean fellow man, kills those I love, I’m going to be angry. You want to give him a get out of jail free card. No thanks. Whatever happened to justice? How do you get the grace and the justice labels both?

    Now, I’ll tell you where I think Christianity is harsh, if you don’t believe you you don’t get heaven. So I get punished if I use my free will to deny God wrong? What kind of free will is that? And what kind of forgiveness?

    “Jesus says to not look at another man’s wife with lust.” I believe you are referring to Matthews 5:28. Yeah, I don’t believe 1984’s thought crime legislation was a good thing. That holds even if Jesus says it. Out of curiosity, do 5:29 or 5:30 strike chords with you? I think I may have found where justice comes in, though it seems a bit much. Should you then castrate yourself if you violate 5:27’s mandate? How loving.

    You still didn’t refute my main point though. I’ll grant that there were harsher rules, but they are less binding, which mitigates their potency as being harsher substantially. (In this case, entirely) See if I tell my kids that they are not allowed to speak unless spoken to, some would consider that harsh, but if I don’t enforce those rules with punishment what does it matter? Rules have an impact because of repercussions lain down by the rule maker.

  • sean

    “I think you may lack understanding of medieval terminology and are
    imposing a modern worldview on a medieval argument, well, except for I’d
    axe the may.”

    “Perhaps you should understand medieval motion, but that might be asking too much.”

    Well since it doesn’t map to reality…
    We had incorrect conceptions about how motion until Newton came along.

    “And therefore it is cheating to take a modern idea of motion and use it
    instead of the idea that was meant by the word at the time. PLease stop
    cheating.”

    Look, language changes with time. I’ve only ever read English translations of the argument, since I don’t speak Latin. Theoretically, when writing the newer version, translators should be updating the language used to reflect new definitions. But let’s grant that I’ve just missed the ones that did. Fine, do you know where I could find a translation that properly explains beyond the language barrier? (updated to the modern English language)

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Depends on the person. Nowadays indoctrination is often sufficient. I don’t know what others’ standards are entirely, but they are a lot lower than mine.

    Reply: They are a lot lower than yours? How could you demonstrate this? Also, indoctrination? How could you indoctrinate someone to say they should align themselves with a crucified messiah in the ancient world?

    Sean: Isn’t their reward heaven? Seems pretty great to me.

    Reply: There are degrees of reward in Heaven just as much as there are in Hell.

    SEan: And yeah, I do think it should be earned. I agree it’s not much of a grace system, and I don’t really like the grace system. If you wrong someone, you should make amends with them, not a third party like Jesus.

    Reply: Not always possible, but in the biblical system, since God is also the good, every sin done is done against Him fundamentally. He is the first one wronged. But okay, if you think it should be earned, then give a non-arbitrary standard that should be used.

    Sean: If we had grace in the American justice system, we wouldn’t lock up the killers. That seems like a poor idea.

    Reply: Forgiveness does not mean consequences go away. It means guilt is removed and that’s objective guilt. David was forgiven and still suffered for what he did.

    Sean: Yeah, that’s problematic. See, when my ‘brother’ which is generally interpreted to mean fellow man, kills those I love, I’m going to be angry.

    Reply: Jesus does not mean “fellow man.” He refers to one who is part of the in-group. This is how people of the Kingdom are to interact.

    Difficult? Yes. Thus demonstrating what Chesterton said. Christianity is not tried and found wanting but found difficult and left untried.

    Sean: You want to give him a get out of jail free card. No thanks.

    Reply: Nope. See Pilch and Malina’s Handbook of Biblical Social Values. Forgiveness entails mending the social breach between two parties. It does not mean no consequences.

    Sean: Whatever happened to justice? How do you get the grace and the justice labels both?

    Reply: The way I’ve been describing.

    Sean: Now, I’ll tell you where I think Christianity is harsh, if you don’t believe you you don’t get heaven. So I get punished if I use my free will to deny God wrong? What kind of free will is that? And what kind of forgiveness?

    Reply: What’s harsh about that? You choose to not be with God. You make a choice and say you want nothing to do with Him. God gives you what you want.

    Sean: “Jesus says to not look at another man’s wife with lust.” I believe you are referring to Matthews 5:28. Yeah, I don’t believe 1984’s thought crime legislation was a good thing. That holds even if Jesus says it. Out of curiosity, do 5:29 or 5:30 strike chords with you?

    Reply: Not sure what you mean by striking chords, but this is not the thought police since people cannot know one another’s thoughts, but it does teach us to watch our thought life. I figure any good psychologist will tell you the same.

    Sean: I think I may have found where justice comes in, though it seems a bit much. Should you then castrate yourself if you violate5:27’s mandate? How loving.

    Reply: Ancients spoke in hyperbole. THe same is being said here.

    Sean: You still didn’t refute my main point though. I’ll grant that there were harsher rules, but they are less binding, which mitigates their potency as being harsher substantially. (In this case, entirely) See if I tell my kids that they are not allowed to speak unless spoken to, some would consider that harsh, but if I don’t enforce those rules with punishment what does it matter? Rules have an impact because of repercussions lain down by the rule maker.

    Reply: And the Christian community is to do the part to work with that. I’ll grant you that the church is not doing its job here in America (Just guessing that’s where you’re writing from though it would apply to most of the Western World). The church by and large has grown lax on moral standards. Also of course, Christians have the conviction of the Holy Spirit as well, God’s own guide for helping us.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Well since it doesn’t map to reality…

    Reply: How can you know this without knowing what the medievals meant by the term? At least do some research.

    Sean: We had incorrect conceptions about how motion until Newton came along.

    Reply: See above.

    Sean: Look, language changes with time. I’ve only ever read English translations of the argument, since I don’t speak Latin.

    Reply: I don’t speak Latin either and I have no problem doing the research.

    Sean: Theoretically, when writing the newer version, translators should be updating the language used to reflect new definitions.

    REply: Your lack of willingness to look up what a word means should not be blamed on the translators. Even if they do wrong, it does not justify your doing the same.

    Sean: But let’s grant that I’ve just missed the ones that did. Fine, do you know where I could find a translation that properly explains beyond the language barrier? (updated to the modern English language)

    Reply: Nope. The finest translations still say “motion.” You just need to look up what it meant to them.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Wishful thinking is powerful. Christianity offered people eternal paradise. As already pointed out above, Judaism had prepared people for a persecuted, humiliated messiah – it’s what potential Christ converts would have been expecting.

    And when Christians got a certain amount of power they were able to compel people to convert, suggesting even they didn’t have faith that the ‘good news’ was enough to convince everyone on its own merits.

    You talk about high standards, but in the Catholic system at least, systems like paying for indulgences and confession gave people a way of letting go of guilt that previously they might have had to simply suffer with. And also they get to tell people things are wrong just because their God says so, rather than defending the argument with actual reasons.

  • Nick Peters

    Andrew: Wishful thinking is powerful.

    REply: Yes. The wish for there to be no Jesus is a powerful incentive. That sword cuts both ways.

    Andrew: Christianity offered people eternal paradise.

    REply: And hardly a peep about that is said in the epistles. Furthermore, every religion out there offered benefits. Note these benefits came after death. They didn’t come in this life. Why would someone risk everything in this life for something that could not even be determined in the next life unless they had reason to think it was true?

    Andrew: As already pointed out above, Judaism had prepared people for a persecuted, humiliated messiah – it’s what potential Christ converts would have been expecting.

    Reply: No. This needs to be demonstrated. If anything, it’s just the opposite. The Messiah everyone was expecting was a ruling and conquering Messiah. Note that that also might explain Jews even if true, but it would not explain Gentile converts.

    Andrew: And when Christians got a certain amount of power they were able to compel people to convert,

    Reply: The question is how did they last long enough to get to that position of power in the first place.

    Andrew: suggesting even they didn’t have faith that the ‘good news’ was enough to convince everyone on its own merits.

    Reply: I’d also like to see your sources on events such as the Inquisition anyway to back this.

    Andrew: You talk about high standards, but in the Catholic system at least, systems like paying for indulgences and confession gave people a way of letting go of guilt that previously they might have had to simply suffer with. And also they get to tell people things are wrong just because their God says so, rather than defending the argument with actual reasons.

    Reply: Don’t give a rip about that right now. I care about how the church was even able to survive to that point at all.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “why would someone risk…”

    Again, wishful thinking!
    And who said anything about wishing there to be no Jesus? Not me.

  • Nick Peters

    IT’s amazing how much you leave out in a reply! So let’s look!

    Andrew: Again, wishful thinking!

    Reply: Why would someone wish that a crucified criminal was the Messiah? Every other messianic cult had something in common. When the Messiah died, it was over. In fact, if they were wanting to believe in Jesus, the easy route would have been to say divine exaltation. They went the hardest route and said “resurrection.”

    Why would Paul want that when he was already advancing well on the path he was on? He gained nothing from it.

    Why would Gentiles want to believe in a crucified Messiah? Their mystery religions gave them enough benefits.

    Andrew: And who said anything about wishing there to be no Jesus? Not me.

    Reply: Neither does the text say anything about Paul and Gentiles wishing Jesus was the Messiah, but you sure threw that in quickly. If the text cannot say it and you read it in, then you cannot say it and I can read it in just as much.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Paul either had a vision of God, or he didn’t. If he didn’t, he either just made it up, or he truly believed he saw God. I’d say the last of those three options is most likely. So he had a hallucination, and after was convinced he was doing the right thing. Why is a hallucination less likely than genuinely seeing a deity?

  • sean

    “No really. You don’t. In my philosophical training, I studied the arguments on the Master’s level. The objection is one of someone who is unfamiliar with medieval thought and the way Aristotlean categories would be used. One needs to understand Aristotle’s four causes, the two the medievals made, and such ideas as potentiality, actuality, and motion as used back then.”

    Why should we offer merit to a false base? It reminds me of the story about the Greek guy who was killed over the square root of two. There’s no reason to get that worked up about stuff. If you cannot demonstrate that your ideas of motion map to reality then your base is useless, and your argument unsound. You surely must be aware that Aristotle’s physics don’t match reality. Aristotle thought velocity to be directly proportional to the weight of objects in free fall, meaning objects of different weights fall at different times and speeds. I don’t know what else to say except you really really shouldn’t use him as a base unless it’s demonstrated that that maps to reality, and that’s not the case.

    “Why should I think that’s theoretically testable? No one can force a
    free-will agent to act. If you throw a stone, the stone must obey laws
    of physics. My body must obey those laws as well, but does that mean my
    person must?”

    Well, you don’t have to think anything. There’s no mandate for it in general. But you do if you want to remain reasonable. So under that base that I know you do support, if effects are observed in nature, we should theoretically be able to test these observations scientifically. That’s how science works. It measures the physical world. That’s why it is theoretically testable.

    As for free will, it’s theoretically testable because we can measure the influence of the outside world on the brain. We see that some behavioral abnormalities map to abnormalities in the brain. If people under the influence of drugs “lose control” that’s evidence of will not being entirely free. The chemicals play a part. That much we know even now.

    “But not on the area.”

    Sure. I never said he was. That’s why he works with scientists. Their expertise is that they have degrees. (Though to be fair, so did my biology teacher, and she didn’t believe in evolution. You may have a point there after all.)

    “You gotta stop saying commentary when you mean contemporary.”

    Haha, yeah. Thanks. I’ll blame auto-correct.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Why would someone wish that a crucified criminal was the Messiah?”

    That was already answered a few days ago in an extensive quote from a link that Dagoods posted (I think from Richard Carrier). Here it is again:

    “And this idea of a suffering, executed god would resonate especially with those Jews and their sympathizers who expected a humiliated messiah. Jewish scripture declared that “The Redeemer of Israel” or “The Holy One of God” shall be “despised” by men, and nations will be “disgusted” with him, yet he shall triumph;[13] the people will “bury him with the wicked” even though he was innocent, and he shall be “numbered with the transgressors” just as the Gospel of Mark says.[14] The idea that a Chosen One of God must suffer total humiliation and execution at the hands of the wicked is a major theme in Isaiah.[15] Even David, a common prototype of the Messiah, sings in Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” for “I am a worm” and “a reproach to men, despised by the people” and “all that see me laugh and scorn.” This song set up a Jewish model for a crucified Davidic savior.[16]

    The pre-Christian text of the Wisdom of Solomon also declares that the wicked will “condemn to a shameful death” the holiest man of God, because they are “blinded by their wickedness” and “do not know the secret purposes of God” and it is said this righteous man, “a son of god,” who is given a shameful execution will be raised and exalted by God to avenge his own death.[17] This was a lesson that would automatically apply to the Messiah, who would be, by definition, a blameless and righteous man. And we have evidence it probably was understood by some in just this way, for the preeminent prophecy of the coming Messiah declares this very fate:

    The anointed one shall be utterly destroyed yet there is no judgment upon him, then the city and the sanctuary will be torn down by the ruler who shall come. They will be knocked down in a cataclysm, until the end, when after war wreaks havoc there will be a systematic extermination. (Daniel 9:26)”

  • bbrown

    I am pretty sure that most Jews were expecting a very different figure than Christ as messiah. They expected a political/ military hero who would conquer by might and the power of God.

    But, you are right that the OT prophesied a different means of deliverance and you give some proof of that. Christ is indeed prophesied throughout the OT in many very specific ways. And I am sure that you are right also that there were Jews that read it that way. However, I think that the great majority expected a very different form of saviour, and that’s partly why it was so hard for most Jews to accept that Christ was the promised Messiah.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Right, so the explanation is a good one: it explains why some would have expected such a Messiah, and it also explains the reluctance of the majority.

    If you want me to reply again, rather than reply to this post, could you start a new post, so that it goes to the start (or end) of this thread? It’s getting too hard for me to track down your posts each time amid all the other posts.

  • Nick Peters

    Andrew: Paul either had a vision of God, or he didn’t.

    Reply: It is never said to be a vision of God. It is said to be one of Christ.

    Andrew: If he didn’t, he either just made it up, or he truly believed he saw God. I’d say the last of those three options is most likely. So he had a hallucination,

    REply: Do you have any evidence that this was a hallucination? Paul would have known about hallucinations as well. Would he not be checking afterwards if he found something totally contradictory to his worldview? Also, Paul was not in the proper mindset for such a hallucination from what we know of him. He was just fine where he was in Judaism.

    Andrew: and after was convinced he was doing the right thing. Why is a hallucination less likely than genuinely seeing a deity?

    Reply: Why? Lack of evidence. We also know based on the description that those around Paul heard something as well and Paul was blinded. A hallucination doesn’t really do that.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Why should we offer merit to a false base?

    Reply: You’ve yet to show the false base.

    Sean: It reminds me of the story about the Greek guy who was killed over the square root of two. There’s no reason to get that worked up about stuff.

    Reply: You’re speaking of Pythagoras. I have not heard of him being killed over this.

    Sean: If you cannot demonstrate that your ideas of motion map to reality then your base is useless, and your argument unsound.

    REply: I can, when the motion is properly understood. I see you’re still unwilling to do your homework to understand an argument.

    Sean: You surely must be aware that Aristotle’s physics don’t match reality. Aristotle thought velocity to be directly proportional to the weight of objects in free fall, meaning objects of different weights fall at different times and speeds. I don’t know what else to say except you really really shouldn’t use him as a base unless it’s demonstrated that that maps to reality, and that’s not the case.

    Reply: My argument depends zip on Aristotle’s physics. Everything in the physics could be wrong and I’d still be okay. My argument depends on his metaphysics.

    Sean: Well, you don’t have to think anything. There’s no mandate for it in general. But you do if you want to remain reasonable. So under that base that I know you do support, if effects are observed in nature, we should theoretically be able to test these observations scientifically. That’s how science works. It measures the physical world. That’s why it is theoretically testable.

    Reply: And if the causes are not physical, then science has nothing that it can say. It can speak of the effects, but it can speak with no certainty of the cause.

    Sean: As for free will, it’s theoretically testable because we can measure the influence of the outside world on the brain. We see that some behavioral abnormalities map to abnormalities in the brain. If people under the influence of drugs “lose control” that’s evidence of will not being entirely free. The chemicals play a part. That much we know even now.

    Reply: Free will isn’t really relevant to my arguments for the existence of God and Jesus.

    Sean: Sure. I never said he was. That’s why he works with scientists. Their expertise is that they have degrees. (Though to be fair, so did my biology teacher, and she didn’t believe in evolution. You may have a point there after all.)

    REply: Don’t care about evolution either. Answer the question either way and my worldview is fine, but if that’s your standard, then you should have on problem accepting Keener who actually does have relevant degrees in the area.

  • Nick Peters

    Andrew: “And this idea of a suffering, executed god would resonate especially with those Jews and their sympathizers who expected a humiliated messiah.

    Reply: Could you show any of them at the time who did? Any rabbis writing about one? Anyone in the Essene community? Do you have any evidence these people expecting a suffering Messiah existed?

    Andrew:Jewish scripture declared that “The Redeemer of Israel” or “The Holy One of God” shall be “despised” by men, and nations will be “disgusted” with him, yet he shall triumph;[13]

    REply; And the passage specifically says this is Israel. Now I do think it does tie in with Christ of course, but the original intent of Isaiah I believe was to speak about Israel. Do you have evidence the rabbis or essenes saw it otherwise?

    Andrew: the people will “bury him with the wicked” even though he was innocent, and he shall be “numbered with the transgressors” just as the Gospel of Mark says.[14]

    Reply: Same deal applies. Any pre-Christian evidence that this is Messianic?

    Andrew: The idea that a Chosen One of God must suffer total humiliation and execution at the hands of the wicked is a major theme in Isaiah.[15]

    REply: And applies very well to Israel.

    Andrew: Even David, a common prototype of the Messiah, sings in Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” for “I am a worm” and “a reproach to men, despised by the people” and “all that see me laugh and scorn.” This song set up a Jewish model for a crucified Davidic savior.[16]

    Reply: And again, evidence that Psalm 22 was seen in this light? Do we have any evidence that there were groups expecting a crucified Davidic savior?

    Andrew: The pre-Christian text of the Wisdom of Solomon also declares that the wicked will “condemn to a shameful death” the holiest man of God, because they are “blinded by their wickedness” and “do not know the secret purposes of God” and it is said this righteous man, “a son of god,” who is given a shameful execution will be raised and exalted by God to avenge his own death.[17] This was a lesson that would automatically apply to the Messiah, who would be, by definition, a blameless and righteous man. And we have evidence it probably was understood by some in just this way, for the preeminent prophecy of the coming Messiah declares this very fate:

    Reply: Yeah. I’d really like to see this evidence that it was interpreted this way. You see, I have already read the Wisdom of Solomon before. The idea in the text is that if this is the one of God, God would deliver. Crucifixion alone would not be enough to show this was the man of God.

    Andrew: The anointed one shall be utterly destroyed yet there is no judgment upon him, then the city and the sanctuary will be torn down by the ruler who shall come. They will be knocked down in a cataclysm, until the end, when after war wreaks havoc there will be a systematic extermination. (Daniel 9:26)”

    Reply: Again, it’s easy afterwards to see this as Christ, but do you have any evidence that it was seen this way beforehand? Go to the Rabbinic and Essene writings and see what you find.

  • bbrown

    Andrew, I’m sort of new to this, but I notice that when I want to go right to a reply I can do so by pushing the blue part of this (which I get in my email)….

    A new comment was posted on Tough Questions Answered

  • Andrew Ryan

    Doesn’t work on my browser. But if it’s too difficult to just make a new post on the thread (ie not replying to an existing one) then so be it.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “It is never said to be a vision of God. It is said to be one of Christ.”

    Nick, that’s a nit-picking ‘correction’ which makes no difference whatsoever to the point I was making.

    “Do you have any evidence that this was a hallucination?”

    Do you have any evidence that Jesus genuinely appeared to him? Sorry, your demand for evidence here strikes me as absolutely absurd.

    “Also, Paul was not in the proper mindset for such a hallucination from what we know of him.”

    This makes no sense. There’s isn’t a ‘proper mindset’ for hallucinations. They can have many causes, and don’t require a ‘proper mindset’ that you could possible divine from what we know of him.

  • Nick Peters

    Andrew: Nick, that’s a nit-picking ‘correction’ which makes no difference whatsoever to the point I was making.

    Reply: No. It’s important because Paul counts himself one of the witnesses to the risen Christ which puts his experience along the lines of the others. No one claimed to see God. All claimed to see Christ risen.

    Andrew: Do you have any evidence that Jesus genuinely appeared to him? Sorry, your demand for evidence here strikes me as absolutely absurd.

    Reply: Yes. I’m not surprised you find asking for evidence absurd. Well if you have no evidence that he had a hallucination, then maybe you just want me to take it on faith.

    Andrew: This makes no sense. There’s isn’t a ‘proper mindset’ for hallucinations. They can have many causes, and don’t require a ‘proper mindset’ that you could possible divine from what we know of him.

    Reply: Actually, they do. The brain is a complex tool and how it works can lead one to hallucinate more. For instance, Navy Seals go through a Hell Week in training and towards the end, start hallucinating because they’re sleep-deprived. People who are overwhelmed with grief and depression are more prone to hallucinate. This experience however caused Paul to have a complete shift of worldview. Most of us when we have hallucinations realize what they are quickly and move on and the ancient world knew of such things. Paul affirmed himself that this was a unique event and surely he would have wished it to be a hallucination if he was just fine where he was.

    If you think it was a hallucination, feel free to give a reason other than “I don’t like the alternative.”

  • sean

    “How can you know this without knowing what the medievals meant by the term? At least do some research.”

    I have looked it up. But all the research I have done shows that they did not have an accurate concept of how causality works. You don’t just get to sit here and claim I am not sufficiently schooled in this subject. I have given some examples of what Greek philosophers thought of motion and how their notions were incorrect.

    The truth of the matter is, is that if these people understood motion and causality properly it would have held up to scientific study, and thus be taught in physics classrooms today. Sorry to say, it isn’t that way.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean. You’re still making the same mistake. You’re assuming motion is a physics term. It can include physics, but it is not limited to physics. Angels have motion in Thomistic thought and angels are not material. Perhaps you should look up and tell me what the medievals meant by motion. If you cannot find it, then you very well cannot say that they are wrong.

  • sean

    Sure. I’ll address cause too, since they are kinda bundled into one under these definitions.

    So there is the idea of a material cause. In one sense of its meaning, its manifestly obvious. Things are what they are composed of. But then material and substance of composition are different words on Aristotle’s view. The material also goes to this strange dichotomy between agents that are alive and ones that are not. Like there’s some sort of consequential difference between my arm’s pushing of a box and a rock that’s rolling doing the pushing.

    That rolls over into this idea of formal causes. The formal cause describes the arrangement of the material a thing is composed of. I’m generally okay with this except for the idea that it should be liked with the efficient cause.

    The efficient cause goes back to this special dichotomy of living agents. So if the rock pushes the box, sure it’s the cause, but really the efficient cause is that I pushed the rock up the hill. That’s the important cause, not the rock’s falling. What happens if lightning and rain caused that rock to fall instead? Does it no longer have an efficient cause? The answer would seem to be yes. That’s fine, I agree. But this idea of an efficient cause being necessary for the start of the universe is wrong. You can describe things in terms of what we consider to be free will agents, but how can you demonstrate that the efficient cause is a binding necessity? You cannot, yet that is more or less the reason given for these prime mover and uncaused cause arguments.

    The final cause is this weird warped way of describing things as though they have a purpose. For example, apples strive to reach the ground, so they fall off of trees and whack Newton in the head. Then when stuff like clocks only exist when people make them, their purpose is that the person made them to synchronize time between cities so the train system would run better. But again, there is no demonstration that these things are a necessity for describing reality. Some stuff, like the clock, could conceivably described as being created for people. So that’s their final cause. But we have no such reason for the rock falling from the hill to push the box. There is no reason for it that can be described in terms of a thinking beings wants or desires.

    In terms of Angels having motion, yeah, I get that he thinks that, but that’s still not an accurate reflection of the reality of the situation. There are no angels, and this idea that the immaterial (in the scientific sense of the word material) can cause change in the material world has yet to be demonstrated. Just because I can describe a planet between Earth and Mars doesn’t mean there is one.

    In short, motion is movement bundled in with why the changes in moving happen and that a good way to describe that is to delineate between what appear to be agents with free-will, and objects that do not appear that way. Is that about right?

  • sean

    “You’re speaking of Pythagoras. I have not heard of him being killed over this.”

    Well, it’s a story. I won’t speak to the truth of it, but it is certainly one that gets around. I’ve even read it in a book on mathematics and the development of infinity, an interesting book for the mathematically inclined by the way. I don’t quite recall the title unfortunately. (The book didn’t assert the story to be true, it just recounted the story.)

    “My argument depends zip on Aristotle’s physics. Everything in the physics could be wrong and I’d still be okay. My argument depends on his metaphysics.”

    Shouldn’t that have to map to reality as well? There’s a reason the field of metaphysics still has to seriously contend with the idea that numbers have to be actually existent things fro us to be able to use them, and it’s because we have no way to test the claims of metaphysical principals as they apply outside the scope of reality.

    “And if the causes are not physical, then science has nothing that it can
    say. It can speak of the effects, but it can speak with no certainty of
    the cause.”

    Well, if the effects don’t match up, does that not speak to the cause. Science can at least negate things. But you are right, we have no path currently through science to test for nonphysical causes. That’s why we shouldn’t assert them as true. Moreover, just because science doesn’t work doesn’t mean you can use some other method. You have to demonstrate that that method produces accurate results, and I don’t see how you could do that.

    “Free will isn’t really relevant to my arguments for the existence of God and Jesus.”

    Alright, I just wasn’t clear on what you meant by something you had previously said, so I addressed both things to which I thought you may have been referring.

    “Don’t care about evolution either. Answer the question either way and my
    worldview is fine, but if that’s your standard, then you should have on
    problem accepting Keener who actually does have relevant degrees in the
    area.”

    It isn’t my standard! That’s why I didn’t answer it for so long, but I thought I’d answer it on your standards anyways. I then made the observation that that standard is bunk on the grounds that my high school biology teacher who does have degrees disbelieves in evolution despite the scientific basis behind it. I wasn’t questioning your belief in evolution with that comment. I was pointing out that degrees don’t equate to truth. They do give an indicator of who’s likely going to have the more persuasive and correct information before the actual substance of the material is assessed, but the actual assessment of information has no bearing on a person’s degrees. In addition, whether or not it is accepted by the scientific community at large has much more bearing than any individual’s beliefs. Would I be correct in saying that the scientific community dismisses Keener’s claims in his book?

  • Andrew Ryan

    I never gave that as a reason. You mention some causes of hallucinations. There are many. Temporary lobe epilepsy causes symptoms similar to those described by Paul. And yes, his state of mind could well have been right to induce TLE. Stress, anxiety, depression – all likely results of the job Paul was doing and events he was involved in.

  • bbrown

    “Do you have any evidence that Jesus genuinely appeared to him? Sorry,
    your demand for evidence here strikes me as absolutely absurd.”

    A demand for evidence is never absurd. When the sum of evidence sways in one direction, we assent to that and it forms a part of our understanding. As abductive reasoners we incorporate the sum of everything we know to reach the best explanations and conclusions.

    There are reasons why we would believe Paul. I believe the evidence that he believed the reality of the risen Christ are very convincing. The logic and reasons are cumulatively overwhelming and the arguments against it are very weak. Do you really mean it when you imply that there is not any evidence? That would mean you would have done essentially no research, because volumes have been written on this exact topic.

    Paul was a well educated, brilliant thinker and logician; not one to be susceptible to a radical life-changing hallucination. A hallucination that led him not only to clarity but to persecution and martyrdom. That argument can only reflect an ignorance of the historical context. You do claim to have studied these things, am I correct?

  • Andrew Ryan

    “A demand for evidence is never absurd.”

    It’s absurd when it comes from someone credulously accepting that “He must have seen the spirit of Jesus” is the only possible explanation.

    “volumes have been written on this exact topic”

    Yes, including examinations of the type of hallucinations that could cause the symptoms Paul described.

    “not one to be susceptible to a radical life-changing hallucination”

    It doesn’t matter how ‘well-educated’ Paul was, he lived in a time a dozen and a half centuries before germs were understood, when ‘demons’ and other supernatural agents were blamed for all sorts of things that nowadays we understand as epilepsy, autism etc.

    “an ignorance of the historical context”

    Indeed.

  • Andrew Ryan

    ” feel free to give a reason other than “I don’t like the alternative.””

    When did I give that as a reason? Cite please.

    Look up the symptoms of frontal lobe epilepsy. Look at this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1032067/

    It’s summed up here:

    “An historical review by D.Landsborough (Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 1987:50) St.Paul and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy provides a fair example of how the assessments are done. Paul’s personal data are lifted from the Acts, and the composite sketch relies on such verities as his inheritance of Roman citizenship, and his formal education received in Jerusalem. He is said to be the ‘first man of letters in the early church’.

    Paul’s self-described out-of-body journey to third heaven with the consequent attacks by Satan, is seen as bearing ‘a close resemblance to the psychic and perceptual resemblance of a temporal lobe seizure, albeit of spiritual experience for Paul’. The author cautions that we do not know whether Paul showed any abnormal physical signs. ‘If this was TLE it is very unlikely that there were – ‘the story is all’ ‘.

    He also cites C.H.Rieu assessment (Acts of the Apostles, Penguin 1957) of Paul as ‘a whirlwind of passions: ‘Hate, anger, depression, jostle with tenderness, love and hope, and all in extremes’. The essay goes on to mention Galatians (4:13-14) acknowledging Paul’s preaching of the gospel on account of illness. The apostle’s not being ‘despised’ for his condition is taken to mean he was free from being spat upon (morbus qui sputatur). Spitting can be described as a superstitious reaction by by-standers to an attack of epilepsy, though the article admits that the rude treatment was not necessarily specific to that disease.

    In the analysis of 2 Cor 12:1-9, a number of indicators are seen as the artifact of a seizure, a disembodied state, aura of depersonalization, and inability to describe the experience are in the view of the author due to an ‘ intensely esoteric, rapturous state associated with an elaborate auditory sensation whose details cannot be recollected’. The writer believes that τη υπερβολυ των αποκαλυψεων (which his translation renders as ‘wealth of visions’) may bespeak of a number of experiences, which have a disagreeable sequel to them, described as a ‘thorn in the flesh’, and interpreted as recurring unpleasant motor disturbances.

    The latter is also seen as possible reference to the inner experience of a grand mal seizure. Generally, it is affirmed that the conversion, the recurrence of attacks and the nature of personality changes, which a quoted source describes as ‘inter-ictal’ such as ‘increased concern with, and writing on philosophical, moral and religious issues’, diminution of sexual activity, aggressiveness, are consistent with the diagnosis of TLE.

    It is interesting to observe how easily Paul matches the epileptic profile in studies like these. There seem to be almost no counter-indications. Paul’s self-described illness and states of mind seem to fit seamlessly into the Damascus incident.”

    Interestingly, epilepsy has been called ‘St.Paul’s Disease’ in Ireland for centuries.

  • bbrown

    Whcih brings us back to the original title of this post by Bill Platt: “You might be a hyperskeptic if…..”? well, if you have tio come up with something like this theory. It requires some pretty extreme convolutions of thought, based on baseless assumptions and presuppostions and some downright looney heterodox ideas about Paul. Look, Andrew, I’ve been a doctor for 30 years. I have never seen anything remotely like what this guy (I have to call him a quack or else someone with a clear aganda) describes in the quote you provided. I think it’s much more likely that Paul’s description of what really happpened is accurate.

  • bbrown

    I meant ‘Bill Pratt’…..sorry for the mispelling Bill :)

  • sean

    On what grounds do you claim “Paul’s description of what really happened is accurate”?

    Here’s the thing. What’s happened here is that Andrew has offered an explanation that is calculable. We can actually use data to say how likely it was that Paul was under this specific type of delusion. What you are offered as more probable than that is not probable by virtue of the definition of probability. We have 0 confirmed instances of a supernatural cause being demonstrated as the reason behind a vision. Holmes’ Character is famous for this line; “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” Obviously we are not saying it is impossible, but since we cannot calculate a probability for the Jesus explanation, we can’t say it is more likely than the naturalistic delusion explanation Andrew offered. If understanding how calculating probability works is being a hyper-skeptic, then there are many more of us than you think, starting with every single statistician, even the Christian ones.

  • Andrew Ryan

    So you figure “I’ve never seen this, so the ONLY explanation that makes sense is that he was genuinely visited by a ghost”. That’s fine, Dr Brown, but it’s ridiculous to say that anyone who doesn’t agree is a ‘hyper-skeptic’.

    “I have to call him a quack”

    It’s a peer reviewed paper in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. That doesn’t mean it HAS to be true. It doesn’t mean he can’t be a quack. But I’m weighing up him vs you and see no reason why I should accept your argument over his.

    “some downright looney heterodox ideas”

    Says the man telling me that ‘Paul saw a ghost’ is saner than ‘Something explicable in terms of natural laws happened’.

    You say you’ve been a doctor 30 years. In all that time, how often has a supernatural explanation proved to be the correct one?

  • Nick Peters

    Been there. Done that. Look up also that Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary in The Spiritual Brain have stated that epilepsy is the least likely explanation for Paul’s experience.

    Do you have any evidence Paul’s work was producing the characteristics you speak of?

    Also, it’s more likely Paul had an eye condition. Hence he says he writes with large letters. For the thorn, it refers in the language of the day to an irritation, not to a disease. I hold it to be Paul’s inability in rhetoric when speaking publicly.

  • Nick Peters

    SEan: Well, it’s a story. I won’t speak to the truth of it, but it is certainly one that gets around. I’ve even read it in a book on mathematics and the development of infinity, an interesting book for the mathematically inclined by the way. I don’t quite recall the title unfortunately. (The book didn’t assert the story to be true, it just recounted the story.)

    Reply: I’ve noticed something over the years. Most ideas taken as common knowledge that speak of ignorance of the past and such like the Earth being thought of as flat and ideas like that have always been found to be wrong when I’ve investigated them. I don’t take many such claims seriously now without scholarly backing.

    Sean: Shouldn’t that have to map to reality as well? There’s a reason the field of metaphysics still has to seriously contend with the idea that numbers have to be actually existent things fro us to be able to use them, and it’s because we have no way to test the claims of metaphysical principals as they apply outside the scope of reality.

    Reply: No. They are outside the scope of science. Science does not encompass all reality, unless you can demonstrate the natural world is all there is, which could not be done with science. The metaphysics I see do mesh with reality. Now with numbers, there are many different ideas on that. You could say numbers exist and they eternally exist as ideas in the mind of God. That’s a possibility. It doesn’t mean they have their own independent existence. You could say they have a virtual existence much the way a word does. Every word we use is a referent in some sense to something else and does that word actually exist? That’s another question. Schools of Platonism and Aristotleanism and then later Augustinianism and Thomism will have different beliefs on this, and that’s okay.

    Sean: Well, if the effects don’t match up, does that not speak to the cause. Science can at least negate things. But you are right, we have no path currently through science to test for nonphysical causes. That’s why we shouldn’t assert them as true.

    Reply: Only if you assert a scientism approach. I don’t. I suggest reading works such as “The Limits of Science” by Rescher. When science is turned into a god, one actually insults science.

    Sean: Moreover, just because science doesn’t work doesn’t mean you can use some other method. You have to demonstrate that that method produces accurate results, and I don’t see how you could do that.

    Reply: You do so by following sound principles of logic from the beginning. Will it always produce certainty? Perhaps not. There are going to be areas where you have degrees of belief which is fine. Now keep in mind you’ve been complaining when I say “I don’t see how you could do that.” If that’s something you think should not be said, don’t say it yourself.

    Sean: It isn’t my standard! That’s why I didn’t answer it for so long, but I thought I’d answer it on your standards anyways. I then made the observation that that standard is bunk on the grounds that my high school biology teacher who does have degrees disbelieves in evolution despite the scientific basis behind it. I wasn’t questioning your belief in evolution with that comment. I was pointing out that degrees don’t equate to truth. They do give an indicator of who’s likely going to have the more persuasive and correct information before the actual substance of the material is assessed, but the actual assessment of information has no bearing on a person’s degrees. In addition, whether or not it is accepted by the scientific community at large has much more bearing than any individ ual’s beliefs. Would I be correct in saying that the scientific community dismisses Keener’s claims in his book?

    Reply: I seriously doubt the scientific community interacts with Keener’s claim because that’s NT study. Why should I care? I care about the historical claims and the philosophical claims. YOu’re still stuck in a scientism mindset that will highly highly limit your knowledge.

    The scientific community is not the greatest community of knowledge. It’s usually the most relevant to us, but actually, I think the reality is that our greatest questions are not answered by science, and those are questions more along the lines of right and wrong and if life has meaning and if so, what is it.

    I am not opposed to science. I oppose scientism.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: So there is the idea of a material cause. In one sense of its meaning, its manifestly obvious. Things are what they are composed of. But then material and substance of composition are different words on Aristotle’s view. The material also goes to this strange dichotomy between agents that are alive and ones that are not. Like there’s some sort of consequential difference between my arm’s pushing of a box and a rock that’s rolling doing the pushing.

    REply: Well I have to be somewhat nit-picky. Things are not what they are composed of. The sum can be greater than its parts. Also, there is a difference between something alive and something not alive. One has the matter of its own motion in itself. The other is entirely dependent on others.

    Sean: That rolls over into this idea of formal causes. The formal cause describes the arrangement of the material a thing is composed of. I’m generally okay with this except for the idea that it should be liked with the efficient cause.

    Reply: I think Aristotle would agree.

    Sean: The efficient cause goes back to this special dichotomy of living agents. So if the rock pushes the box, sure it’s the cause, but really the efficient cause is that I pushed the rock up the hill. That’s the important cause, not the rock’s falling. What happens if lightning and rain caused that rock to fall instead? Does it no longer have an efficient cause? The answer would seem to be yes. That’s fine, I agree. But this idea of an efficient cause being necessary for the start of the universe is wrong. You can describe things in terms of what we consider to be free will agents, but how can you demonstrate that the efficient cause is a binding necessity? You cannot, yet that is more or less the reason given for these prime mover and uncaused cause arguments.

    Reply: This is where the instrumental cause comes in. Natural events are caused by other natural events. If there’s a chain of dependency, it has to have an ultimate cause somewhere even if the chain is eternal.

    Sean: The final cause is this weird warped way of describing things as though they have a purpose.

    Reply: Not entirely….

    Sean: For example, apples strive to reach the ground, so they fall off of trees and whack Newton in the head. Then when stuff like clocks only exist when people make them, their purpose is that the person made them to synchronize time between cities so the train system would run better. But again, there is no demonstration that these things are a necessity for describing reality. Some stuff, like the clock, could conceivably described as being created for people. So that’s their final cause. But we have no such reason for the rock falling from the hill to push the box. There is no reason for it that can be described in terms of a thinking beings wants or desires.

    Reply: Not really. An iceberg moving through the water causes the water to be colder. That’s final causality. It is not to be confused with purpose. It is simply saying there is a link between A and B.

    Sean: In terms of Angels having motion, yeah, I get that he thinks that, but that’s still not an accurate reflection of the reality of the situation. There are no angels, and this idea that the immaterial (in the scientific sense of the word material) can cause change in the material world has yet to be demonstrated. Just because I can describe a planet between Earth and Mars doesn’t mean there is one.

    Reply: No. You don’t. You have to treat Aquinas’s arguments on its own merit. He’s not even talking about angels acting in the material world necessarily. Angels can have motion and not interact on the material world. It also doesn’t work to say “There are no angels.” The existence of angels is irrelevant at this point. What’s relevant is if Aquinas believes they exist and believes they undergo motion and even without interacting on the physical world, then motion is not necessarily physical.

    Sean: In short, motion is movement bundled in with why the changes in moving happen and that a good way to describe that is to delineate between what appear to be agents with free-will, and objects that do not appear that way. Is that about right?

    Reply: Not entirely. It includes that, but it is not limited to that. You could sum up motion in one sentence very easily.

  • sean

    “Well I have to be somewhat nit-picky. Things are not what they are
    composed of. The sum can be greater than its parts.”

    Yeah, I thought I wrote that, but apparently I didn’t. I suppose I’m fine in the sense that the form of matter is something more. So my components are not entirely me, it’s also how they have come together that defines what I am.

    “This is where the instrumental cause comes in. Natural events are caused by other natural events.”

    Right, it’s also the only kind of event that demonstrably exists. Only natural events cause only other natural events as far as we can demonstrate.

    “If there’s a chain of dependency, it has to have an ultimate cause somewhere even if the chain is eternal.”

    What do you mean by eternal, because it’s different from infinite. It could be infinite and have a start, because it is infinite going forwards in time. But generally eternal means infinite in the past and future temporally. If you want to argue it’s infinite in the past, then it makes no sense to say it still has an ultimate cause or any kind of start.

    “No. You don’t. You have to treat Aquinas’s arguments on its own merit.
    He’s not even talking about angels acting in the material world necessarily. Angels can have motion and not interact on the material world. It also doesn’t work to say ‘There are no angels.’ The existence of angels is irrelevant at this point. What’s relevant is if Aquinas believes they exist and believes they undergo motion and even without interacting on the physical world, then motion is not necessarily physical.”
    How do we distinguish claims of non-physical motion from delusions and falsehoods? If some type of change exists that does not interact with the material word, why would you care about it? You cannot have evidence for or against it. It’s like the tree falling in the forest when no one is around to hear it. You have defined the situation such that it is no longer of consequence. So I don’t care. On that note, sure, that kind of motion may exist. Why not. I don’t really care.

    “Also, there is a difference between something alive and something not alive. One has the matter of its own motion in itself. The other is entirely dependent on others.”

    Yeah, I don’t think so. Demonstrate that. I can see how the limited knowledge of the day would lead to that conclusion. It isn’t entirely obvious how a plant grows. But it’s all chemical. There’s no internal motion that exists any differently than a rocket has internal motion. Sure, you could talk about it that way, but the dichotomy of life here hasn’t been demonstrated.

    “Not really. An iceberg moving through the water causes the water to be
    colder. That’s final causality. It is not to be confused with purpose.
    It is simply saying there is a link between A and B.”

    Oh, alright. Well That’s fine by me then.

    “Not entirely. It includes that, but it is not limited to that. You could sum up motion in one sentence very easily.”

    Change happens?

    Define change, and define happen. As far as I know, those do not apply to non-physical things.

  • sean

    “I’ve noticed something over the years. Most ideas taken as common
    knowledge that speak of ignorance of the past and such like the Earth
    being thought of as flat and ideas like that have always been found to
    be wrong when I’ve investigated them. I don’t take many such claims
    seriously now without scholarly backing.”

    That’s true. I was mainly using the story to point out that we should not put too much emphasis on philosophical ideas. I agree that there’s a lot of misconception though. For example, lots of people think Columbus was great in the fact that he was right about the Earth being round, even if he did basically screw over an entire land’s peoples. But Columbus was not making the specific claim that the Earth was round. That was reasonably well accepted in his day. He was claiming it was a lot smaller than others thought, and he was so wrong. If it were not for North America, he’d have died on the ocean and been remembered for his wrongness, if remembered at all. I mean, even the Greeks knew the Earth was round. It’s not new news like people think it is. At any rate, I don’t think you should take that story I told of as true, though, I think many do, and without an actual factual foundation. But that’s a bit of a digression.

    “Only if you assert a scientism approach. I don’t. I suggest reading
    works such as “The Limits of Science” by Rescher. When science is turned
    into a god, one actually insults science.”

    No I get it. Science has severe limitations. I understand that. I don’t understand what that has to do with clams other methodologies use.

    “You do so by following sound principles of logic from the beginning.
    Will it always produce certainty? Perhaps not. There are going to be
    areas where you have degrees of belief which is fine. Now keep in mind
    you’ve been complaining when I say “I don’t see how you could do that.”
    If that’s something you think should not be said, don’t say it yourself.”

    There is no such thing as soundness inherent to logic. Logic deals more with validity. The soundness of claims can be deconstructed only with respect to the validity of the assertion of those principles. It’s all just about structural validity. The soundness of the argument, the veracity of the claims, that is presupposed in logical thought. It’s why we have axioms. But the validity of logical assertions is binary. Your degrees of belief vary based on soundness, or at least they should. And I agree, with that idea of varying degrees of certainty with respect to soundness.

    “You’re still stuck in a scientism mindset that will highly highly limit your knowledge.”
    To some extent you are right. But your argument is irrelevant. If I tell you I have a dragon and your empirical mindset demands that you see it to believe me, I can argue that your knowledge is limited, and if I really had that dragon, it would be limited by your demand for evidence. But it’s about what’s justifiably true. And I don’t see that you have provided that justification with these other proposed methods.

    “The scientific community is not the greatest community of knowledge.
    It’s usually the most relevant to us, but actually, I think the reality
    is that our greatest questions are not answered by science, and those
    are questions more along the lines of right and wrong and if life has
    meaning and if so, what is it.

    I am not opposed to science. I oppose scientism.”

    That depends on how you define greatest, but I will grant that science cannot answer every question. And again depending on what you mean by greatest, I can agree that the greatest questions are not answered scientifically. With your examples, I agree to an extent. But that extent is limited. The scientific answer is that there is no inherent right and wrong morally, no meaning to our life. We cannot use science alone to get there. We could define right and wrong in terms of well-being, and science could tell us the right way to get there. But it wouldn’t tell us to value well being to start with. Unfortunately for you, the same can be said of God. I understand that you identify good with God, but that still does not justify the idea that I should care what God says. If I want differently than from what God supposedly wants, there is no reason to not to do it other than the same kind of axiomatic claim I could make about aligning it with well being. There are people accused of worshiping the Devil. That seems pretty good proof that people don’t have to value what God wants, and that God worshiping Christians have recognized the same thing.

    As for science and scientism, yeah, I agree. There is other stuff in life we should value, and science doesn’t lead to objective truth. With limited data, teh scientific method lead Newton to be wrong with respect to what we now know about physics. That’s why science isn’t a proscription for absolute truth. Scientists understand this idea that science isn’t about truth. It’s about useful models based on available evidence. That’s why even though Newton was technically wrong, we still teach the discoveries he made. They are applicable and useful in our everyday, macroscopic, relatively slow-moving, world. But some of it is still wrong, technically. It’s descriptive, not proscriptive.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: That’s true. I was mainly using the story to point out that we should not put too much emphasis on philosophical ideas. I agree that there’s a lot of misconception though. For example, lots of people think Columbus was great in the fact that he was right about the Earth being round, even if he did basically screw over an entire land’s peoples. But Columbus was not making the specific claim that the Earth was round. That was reasonably well accepted in his day. He was claiming it was a lot smaller than others thought, and he was so wrong. If it were not for North America, he’d have died on the ocean and been remembered for his wrongness, if remembered at all. I mean, even the Greeks knew the Earth was round. It’s not new news like people think it is.

    Reply: I cannot comment on why Columbus sailed, but the myth of the flat Earth is a most prevalent myth. The church also never taught the Earth was flat. No educated person I know of after Aristotle did. If there are any, they are the exception and not the rule.

    Oddly enough, it’s atheists that I usually see peddling this myth the most.

    Sean: At any rate, I don’ t think you should take that story I told of as true, though, I think many do, and without an actual factual foundation. But that’s a bit of a digression.

    Reply: I always fact check, especially preachers from the pulpit. There are some great stories I hear from the pulpit. It’d be better if most of them had happened.

    Sean: No I get it. Science has severe limitations. I understand that. I don’t understand what that has to do with clams other methodologies use.

    Reply: Because the impression you give is that science is the end all. The question of miracles is a philosophical question, and you’re going to science. The question of what happened in history is a historical question, and you’re going to science. The question of God is metaphysical, philosophical, and theological, and you’re going to science. (We could also argue it’s somewhat historical if we say God acted in the past)

    It’s scientism. Science is the best for what it does, but it’s not for everything else.

    Sean: There is no such thing as soundness inherent to logic. Logic deals more with validity.

    REply: Not so. Inductive logic is sound. For awhile, this argument was sound.

    Every swan we’ve seen is white.

    When we see another swan, it will be white.

    For the longest time, this was sound. Then we found black swans. Inductive reasoning does not produce certainty but high probability. (Detectives really don’t deal with deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is absolute and proven. Detectives deal with probable scenarios. They could be so airtight they are practically seen as proven, but still capable of being wrong. Science is also inductive.)

    Sean: The soundness of claims can be deconstructed only with respect to the validity of the assertion of those principles. It’s all just about structural validity. The soundness of the argument, the veracity of the claims, that is presupposed in logical thought. It’s why we have axioms. But the validity of logical assertions is binary. Your degrees of belief vary based on soundness, or at least they should. And I agree, with that idea of varying degrees of certainty with respect to soundness.

    Reply: Not entirely. Some claims are made with certainty.

    All cats are felines.

    Muffins is a cat.

    Muffins is a feline.

    This is deductive. If the first two premises are true and the form is valid, which it is, the conclusion must be true.

    All dolphins have horns.

    Sean is a dolphin.

    Sean has a horn.

    Is this argument valid? Yep. Entirely. The form is just perfect. It’s just not true. The premises and conclusion are all wrong.

    The former argument is said to be true because it is valid and has true premises and thus a true conclusion. That conclusion can be known with certainty.

    Sean: To some extent you are right. But your argument is irrelevant. If I tell you I have a dragon and your empirical mindset demands that you see it to believe me, I can argue that your knowledge is limited, and if I really had that dragon, it would be limited by your demand for evidence. But it’s about what’s justifiably true. And I don’t see that you have provided that justification with these other proposed methods.

    Reply: You’re assuming empirical means scientific. It doesn’t. An online dictionary has this:

    1.

    derived from or guided by experience or experiment.

    2.

    depending upon experience or observation alone, without usingscientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.

    3.

    provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/empirical?s=t

    For instance, Aquinas’s arguments are all empirical. You can say they’re wrong (Which they’re not), but they’re empirical. Why? They all depend on a posteriori knowledge. Aquinas rejected a priori ideas. All knowledge was built on sense experience. This does not mean the knowledge is not scientific. If I see a dragon in the garage, I don’t have to do scientific tests. I just go by what I see. I leave the tests to the scientists.

    Sean: That depends on how you define greatest, but I will grant that science cannot answer every question. And again depending on what you mean by greatest, I can agree that the greatest questions are not answered scientifically.

    Reply: Important also is that science depends on prior knowledge from other branches of knowledge, such as the common sense realism of philosophy, or the being of metaphysics, and I’d argue, the existence of God in theology.

    Sean: With your examples, I agree to an extent. But that extent is limited. The scientific answer is that there is no inherent right and wrong morally, no meaning to our life.

    Reply: To say the scientific answer is this is just as valid as saying the mathematical answer is this. This is not the realm of science. Despite what Sam Harris thinks, it is not.

    Sean: We cannot use science alone to get there. We could define right and wrong in terms of well-being, and science could tell us the right way to get there.

    Reply: This is Harris’s definition, but it doesn’t really work. Who determines what well-being is? Why not go with Aristotle’s idea in that happiness is finding your place in the grand scheme of things and filling it? It wasn’t an emotion or a feeling. After all, someone’s happiness in Aristotleanism can change after they’re dead, and Aristotle did not believe in an after-death.

    Sean: But it wouldn’t tell us to value well being to start with. Unfortunately for you, the same can be said of God. I understand that you identify good with God, but that still does not justify the idea that I should care what God says.

    Reply: Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. I do say God is the good, but you’re assuming if you don’t ask if I have a prior definition of good. I do. Thus, I bypass the Euthyphro dilemma. I do not define the good by God. I define the good prior. The good is that at which all things aim as Aristotle said. All things aim to be and God is being without limitation. God is the exemplar of what it means to be. Thus, if goodness is being, God is the Good that gives goodness to all other goods.

    Consider also how different these sentences are though with similar words.

    That was a good pizza I ate.
    My cat is being a good little kitty.
    My wife is a good woman.
    We had a good time watching our TV shows last night.
    I had a good night’s sleep.

    The pizza is not good the same way the wife is good. Each are good, but good has different meanings. I would not want to say “My wife is good in that she comes when I call her and meows in such a cute way” though that’s a great way to say the cat is good. There are similarities, but there are differences, but here’s something they all have in common. They all mean that the object possesses the attributes that make it desirable.

    Sean: I f I want differently than from what God supposedly wants, there is no reason to not to do it other than the same kind of axiomatic claim I could make about aligning it with well being. There are people accused of worshiping the Devil. That seems pretty good proof that people don’t have to value what God wants, and that God worshiping Christians have recognized the same thing.

    Reply: Yes, not everyone wants the real good, but everyone wants good. Even a suicide wants good. All criminals want good. For instance, what does a guy want with rape? Power? Pleasure? Those two in themselves are good. He is just choosing a wrong means to get them, and a terribly wrong means. A murderer could want justice, money, sex, etc. Those things in themselves aren’t evil, but the action is evil.

    Sean: As for science and scientism, yeah, I agree. There is other stuff in life we should value, and science doesn’t lead to objective truth. With limited data, teh scientific method lead Newton to be wrong with respect to what we now know about physics. That’s why science isn’t a proscription for absolute truth.

    Reply: if it isn’t, why put so much trust in it? He who marries the spirit of the age is destined to be a widow.

    Sean: Scientists understand this idea that science isn’t about truth. It’s about useful models based on available evidence. That’s why even though Newton was technically wrong, we still teach the discoveries he made. They are applicable and useful in our everyday, macroscopic, relatively slow-moving, world. But some of it is still wrong, technically. It’s descriptive, not proscriptive.

    Reply: Then it seems like you’re sawing off the branch that you’re sitting on.

  • sean

    “Because the impression you give is that science is the end all. The
    question of miracles is a philosophical question, and you’re going to
    science. The question of what happened in history is a historical
    question, and you’re going to science. The question of God is
    metaphysical, philosophical, and theological, and you’re going to
    science. (We could also argue it’s somewhat historical if we say God
    acted in the past)”

    Well, it isn’t. You gave the example of all cats being felines. That has noting to do with science. That statement is true because that’s how the definitions in our language work. The question of what happened given that it could happen is historical. So we know people, like Paul, could have thought they saw Jesus. That’s a historical claim. But as far as whether or not it’s possible in the first place for him to see an actual risen Jesus, that’s got nothing to do with history. Just because there were some people at one point that thought the Earth was flat does not mean it was flat then and is simply round in the present. We have no scientific indication that a flat Earth could happen. We don’t doubt that the people thought that, but we do doubt that it was true. Your assertion that historical claims trumps what could be known scientifically leaves you in a position of believing that if everyone at some point in the past thought the Earth was flat then it must have been. That’s the parallel claim. What people claim to have known, history. What was possible to have happened, science.

    “Not so. Inductive logic is sound.”

    Different use of the word sound. I was referring to the deductive use of the word. In deductive reasoning, the structure should be valid, and the degree to which you believe the conclusion, assuming a valid structure, is the same as the degree to which you believe the premises. Soundness in inductive logic uses the same letters to mean a different idea. So inductively sound and deductively sound are not the same. I meant deductively.

    “Not entirely. Some claims are made with certainty”

    Yes, like a feline is a cat therefore a specific cat is a feline.

    “You’re assuming empirical means scientific. It doesn’t.”

    I was not assuming that. I was responding to your claim that me limiting my knowledge to that which I have a sound basis for is problematic. You told me that using science to demonstrate truth limits knowledge. It does. But I provided an example of a line of thinking that limits knowledge I thought you’d find reasonable. There’s nothing wrong with accepting that our knowledge is limited. I gave the example to show that proportioning your beliefs to the evidence is reasonable.

    “but you’re assuming if you don’t ask if I have a prior definition of good. I do. Thus, I bypass the Euthyphro dilemma.”

    Well, I guess… though bypass isn’t really the right term. You are conceding that God is not your source of goodness. You picked one of the only two options. That’s not a bypass. You are admitting that while God happens to align with the good he isn’t the source of it. That’s one of the two valid answers to the dilemma. It’s only a dilemma because a lot of people don’t like that one of those two options have to be true. You answered it. That’s not really any sort of bypass or dodge, just an acknowledgement of what has to be in this circumstance. I’m glad you recognize the dilemma as valid, since it is. Many don’t want to, hence why it’s a dilemma. My question now is what’s your source?

    Good still only makes sense with respect to something. This is true whether you accept God exists or not. The problem is that you don’t think there’s anything reasonable to base good on other than God, ergo if he does not exist we have no reasonable basis. But whether you use God or not, it’s only objective with respect to the basis. Rape being not good objectively with respect to God is just as valid as rape not being good with respect to well-being. There’s no reason to value well-being without respect to well being, and there is no reason to value God without respect to himself. They are both just axioms that are assumed as a basis for objectivity. I don’t think God exists, so of course I value something that isn’t him. Now I happen to be of the opinion that I think well-being is more important than what God thinks even if he did exist. So, when they would be in conflict, well-being wins. If you assume a definition of good without respect to God, maybe you do too, in which case we agree.

    “if it isn’t, why put so much trust in it? He who marries the spirit of the age is destined to be a widow.”

    I believe, actually, the spirit of the age is God did it. Here’s a poll from Gallup: http://www.gallup.com/poll/21814/evolution-creationism-intelligent-design.aspx Have fun with your widowhood.

    And it’s a method, not a specific belief. That’s like implying that those married to the view of skepticism are going to end up widowed. I don’t put my trust in any particular beliefs really, outside of basics like cats are felines, but that’s just a tautology.

    Aside from that, even if it were true what you said about being married to this method, I don’t care. You’re just making an argument from popularity.

    “Then it seems like you’re sawing off the branch that you’re sitting on.”

    Then you don’t understand which branch it is upon which I sit. Science does not proscribe truth. It, as a method, is the best way to describe the reality we experience. That’s it.

  • bbrown

    “I think well-being is more important than what God thinks even if he
    did exist. So, when they would be in conflict, well-being wins.”

    Sean, would you object if your car was stolen today (just taking a random example)? Perhaps someone feels they really needed it for transportation. Or perhaps the well-being of the one who stole it is satisfied by the action and he feels much better about himself now. Was it wrong for him to steal your car?

    Or am I misinterpreting your comment?

  • sean

    Well, you are not completely right, but neither are you completely wrong. I don’t have enough information in this example to say. In general, stealing a car is wrong in the same way that murder is wrong. You are devaluing the well being of others with respect to yourself. The idea that my freedom to swing my arm ends at your face comes to mind.

    We need to take into account the well being of others as well, not just one person’s well being. With respect to himself it isn’t wrong. If he lived in a universe with no other people, and took a car it would not be wrong. But because he’s taking something that I worked for it’s wrong. He is negatively affecting my well-being. Now, there are exceptions to that scenario, say he’s running from a murderer, and my car happens to be parked there. He determines that the best course of action is to break into my car, stealing it, and escape. Well, I’d have to say his well-being trumps my own, so yes, he is justified in taking my car. Or, say I wanted my car taken, and it would benefit everyone (for some weird reason), then it wouldn’t be morally wrong for someone to take it, since everyone’s well-being is positively affected. What you said doesn’t give enough information to make a determination though. In general, we should respect the well-being of others though, so he should not take my car under general circumstances, which I think you may have been implying, but I’m not sure.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Well, it isn’t. You gave the example of all cats being felines. That has noting to do with science. That statement is true because that’s how the definitions in our language work.

    REply: Correct. We can have knowledge apart from science.

    Sean: The question of what happened given that it could happen is historical. So we know people, like Paul, could have thought they saw Jesus. That’s a historical claim. But as far as whether or not it’s possible in the first place for him to see an actual risen Jesus, that’s got nothing to do with history.

    Reply: Actually, it does, because if it happened in history, then we know that it is possible. Philosophy more answers the question of if such things as miracles are possible. Science does not and cannot.

    Sean: Just because there were some people at one point that thought the Earth was flat does not mean it was flat then and is simply round in the present. We have no scientific indication that a flat Earth could happen.

    Reply: The shape of the Earth is within the realm of science. The question of miracles is not.

    SEan: We don’t doubt that the people thought that, but we do doubt that it was true.

    Reply: I doubt they do. Would you like to show where they did think that?

    Sean: Your assertion that historical claims trumps what could be known scientifically leaves you in a position of believing that if everyone at some point in the past thought the Earth was flat then it must have been.

    Reply: No. I don’t say history trumps science at all. I say they’re different fields and each question should be answered by the methodology relevant to that subject. I also have no obligation on my view to think that if someone believed X, then X was true. Because everyone once believed the sun went around the Earth doesn’t mean it is true.

    Sean: That’s the parallel claim. What people claim to have known, history. What was possible to have happened, science.

    REply: No. Science cannot answer this question because science only deals with certain types of being. It does not deal with being outside the realm of nature. That is the area of metaphysics and philosophy.

    SEan: Different use of the word sound. I was referring to the deductive use of the word. In deductive reasoning, the structure should be valid, and the degree to which you believe the conclusion, assuming a valid structure, is the same as the degree to which you believe the premises. Soundness in inductive logic uses the same letters to mean a different idea. So inductively sound and deductively sound are not the same. I meant deductively.

    Reply: If you mean to say such things, then say them clearly. Also, in a deductive form, it does not matter how much you believe the premises. What matters is if the premises are true.

    Sean: I was not assuming that. I was responding to your claim that me limiting my knowledge to that which I have a sound basis for is problematic. You told me that using science to demonstrate truth limits knowledge. It does. But I provided an example of a line of thinking that limits knowledge I thought you’d find reasonable. There’s nothing wrong with accepting that our knowledge is limited. I gave the example to show that proportioning your beliefs to the evidence is reasonable.

    Reply: One should proportion beliefs to the evidence, but one should not think the best evidence is scientific, unless one is doing science. With the dragon claim, I only need one event. Seeing. If I see it and I cannot deny it, I am justified in believing it.

    Sean: Well, I guess… though bypass isn’t really the right term. You are conceding that God is not your source of goodness.

    Reply: No. God is the source of goodness, but He is not the definition of goodness.

    Sean: You picked one of the only two options. That’s not a bypass. You are admitting that while God happens to align with the good he isn’t the source of it.

    Reply: Nope. Not a bit. If God were not, nothing would be. That is what is meant by God being the exemplar cause.

    SEan: That’s one of the two valid answers to the dilemma. It’s only a dilemma because a lot of people don’t like that one of those two options have to be true. You answered it. That’s not really any sort of bypass or dodge, just an acknowledgement of what has to be in this circumstance.

    Reply: No. The dilemma is asking is X good because God says it is good, or does God say X is good because it is. The dilemma says goodness is based on one of those two. I don’t have that problem. I define goodness prior to the question. God is prior ontologically in that His existence is the cause of all other good, but epistemologically, goodness is first.

    Sean: I’m glad you recognize the dilemma as valid, since it is.

    Reply: No. The dilemma is a joke.

    Sean: Many don’t want to, hence why it’s a dilemma. My question now is what’s your source?

    Reply: Good old Aristotlean logic. Just start with the Nicomachean Ethics and go from there. Look at how Aquinas handles the question. Read Thomistic philosophers like Owens and Feser.

    Sean: Good still only makes sense with respect to something. This is true whether you accept God exists or not.

    Reply: Duh.

    Sean: The problem is that you don’t think there’s anything reasonable to base good on other than God, ergo if he does not exist we have no reasonable basis.

    Reply: That part is correct, but one does not have to know God to know goodness.

    Sean: But whether you use God or not, it’s only objective with respect to the basis. Rape being not good objectively with respect to God is just as valid as rape not being good with respect to well-being.

    Reply: No. It’s objective with respect to reality. Can we make moral truth claims and aesthetic truth claims? If so, everyone needs something to root them in. This vague term of “well-being” doesn’t cut it.

    Sean: There’s no reason to value well-being without respect to well being, and there is no reason to value God without respect to himself. They are both just axioms that are assumed as a basis for objectivity. I don’t think God exists, so of course I value something that isn’t him.

    Reply: The reason you value anything is because you believe it is good, but is it good in itself or good for an end? If you say it is good for the end of our well-being, then I can just as well ask is that a goal or is it a means? If it is a goal, then you have introduced teleology which gets us into final causality. If it is a means, then where does that means go?

    Sean: Now I happen to be of the opinion that I think well-being is more important than what God thinks even if he did exist. So, when they would be in conflict, well-being wins. If you assume a definition of good without respect to God, maybe you do too, in which case we agree.

    Reply: No. If my definition is correct, and it is, then God is the ultimate exemplar since He is the perfection of what it means to be and contains all perfections in Him.

    Sean: I believe, actually, the spirit of the age is God did it. Here’s a poll from Gallup:http://www.gallup.com/poll/218… Have fun with your widowhood.

    Reply: *Yawn* The idea that is the new kid on the block is actually the one that is the spirit of the age. I suspect it’s going away soon. Atheism I think is standing on its final legs as people are realizing the bankruptcy of scientism.

    Sean: And it’s a method, not a specific belief. That’s like implying that those married to the view of skepticism are going to end up widowed. I don’t put my trust in any particular beliefs really, outside of basics like cats are felines, but that’s just a tautology.

    Reply: Yeah you do. You put your trust in your beliefs, or else you wouldn’t hold them. The idea of scientism cannot pass its own test at all. Logical Positivism has been dead for decades.

    Sean: Aside from that, even if it were true what you said about being married to this method, I don’t care. You’re just making an argument from popularity.

    Reply: No. I’m making an argument from facts. What is the good science of today is the junk science of tomorrow. Doesn’t sound like something worth building an entire worldview on.

    Sean: Then you don’t understand which branch it is upon which I sit. Science does not proscribe truth. It, as a method, is the best way to describe the reality we experience. That’s it.

    Reply: But if not all of our reality is scientific, as you have said, then science is not the best method. In fact, philosophy is not the best method and history is not the best method. What one needs is ALL methodologies and each in the appropriate field. To apply any to an area they do not speak on is to do an insult to all.

  • sean

    “Actually, it does, because if it happened in history, then we know that
    it is possible. Philosophy more answers the question of if such things
    as miracles are possible. Science does not and cannot.”

    So you believe miracles happen because it’s possible that they could happen? I believe it’s possible too, but that doesn’t mean we should believe it happened. For example, it’s possible all the people who claim to have been abducted by aliens are correct, but that does not mean we should believe it.

    “The shape of the Earth is within the realm of science. The question of miracles is not.”

    As is the question of whether or not trees make sound when no person is around to detect it. But we don’t believe that’s true, right? What’s the difference?

    “I doubt they do. Would you like to show where they did think that?”

    With reference to some people somewhere thinking the Earth was flat? That seems to be what you are saying. Have you heard of the flat earth society? I was speaking historically, but people believe it today. The society I mentioned is something you should look up briefly. That should be sufficient to attest to the veracity of my claim about people believing the Earth is flat.

    “No. I don’t say history trumps science at all. I say they’re different
    fields and each question should be answered by the methodology relevant
    to that subject. I also have no obligation on my view to think that if
    someone believed X, then X was true. Because everyone once believed the
    sun went around the Earth doesn’t mean it is true.”

    So you do not have to believe in the historical claim of a risen Christ because people claim to have seen it? Why then do you believe it? What makes this historical claim different from claims of other religions?

    “One should proportion beliefs to the evidence, but one should not think
    the best evidence is scientific, unless one is doing science. With the
    dragon claim, I only need one event. Seeing. If I see it and I cannot
    deny it, I am justified in believing it.”

    You would believe dragons exist if someone showed on to you? I don’t know that I would. I’d need a good bit more than that, like more than just a small group to see the dragon.

    With regards to the Euthyphro dilemma, there’s some misunderstanding here. If you define goodness without respect to God, why does your explanation of goodness need to invoke god? Perhaps you could explain it with some parallel idea. The dilemma is that either you base goodness on god, or you don’t. Do you define goodness based on god. Your answer is no. Then your definition of good isn’t dependent on god.

    “This vague term of “well-being” doesn’t cut it.”

    because the God of the five ways is so well defined?

    “The reason you value anything is because you believe it is good, but is
    it good in itself or good for an end? If you say it is good for the end
    of our well-being, then I can just as well ask is that a goal or is it a
    means? If it is a goal, then you have introduced teleology which gets
    us into final causality. If it is a means, then where does that means
    go?”

    Well, not quite. I’d say that what I value is good. That’s how I use my definitions. Well-being would be a goal, and striving for well-being is a means. If we are trying to define good, it’s of no use to use the word in the definition. And I’m not invoking teleology. I do not give a reason for valuing well-being. There is no innate purpose to being human. It’s just how I’d like to approach how we behave because that’s what want the world to be like. I like the effects that that implies. Now I think you’d just go one stem further, and justify your well being with God. But either you really value well-being, or you really value what God wants because he is god. I you value well being, there is no need to appeal to a God. If you value god, then he wins when he and well being are in conflict. Say for example, when he drowns the whole world except for eight people. That is now the good thing, over not killing the infants of the world. I’m just saying I pick the infants.

    “No. If my definition is correct, and it is, then God is the ultimate
    exemplar since He is the perfection of what it means to be and contains
    all perfections in Him.”

    you can define whatever you want, and I’ll agree with your definition because that’s how you defined it. But that’s very different from demonstrating that such a thing is existent. I could define unicorns to you, but that’s different from making them real.

    “*Yawn* The idea that is the new kid on the block is actually the one
    that is the spirit of the age. I suspect it’s going away soon. Atheism I
    think is standing on its final legs as people are realizing the
    bankruptcy of scientism.”

    So when the heliocentric model was first proposed…? Aside from that, you’re aware that atheism is not new right? I promise it isn’t on it’s final legs, however much you don’t like that. But I’ll grant that religion isn’t either.

    “No. I’m making an argument from facts. What is the good science of today
    is the junk science of tomorrow. Doesn’t sound like something worth
    building an entire worldview on.”

    Not really. And does religion not change? Whatever happened to the slavery of the

    Old Testament?

    Science is a method, not a body of knowledge. The method of basing beliefs on what is demonstrable really has not changed. The method is my worldview, not the knowledge.

    “But if not all of our reality is scientific, as you have said, then
    science is not the best method. In fact, philosophy is not the best
    method and history is not the best method. What one needs is ALL
    methodologies and each in the appropriate field. To apply any to an area
    they do not speak on is to do an insult to all.”

    Yes, that’s why for scientifically possible things, history is what convinces me of the past. I agree we use them all, but we clearly disagree on where each is applicable.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: So you believe miracles happen because it’s possible that they could happen? I believe it’s possible too, but that doesn’t mean we should believe it happened. For example, it’s possible all the people who claim to have been abducted by aliens are correct, but that does not mean we should believe it.

    Reply: No. I believe if miracles are not shown to be impossible, and they haven’t been, then one should be open to them. The possibility does not entail the actuality. I believe they have happened because I examined the evidence.

    Sean: As is the question of whether or not trees make sound when no person is around to detect it. But we don’t believe that’s true, right? What’s the difference?

    Reply: Your question can’t even be answered yes or no at the start because they either do or don’t make sound. Trees deal with purely natural phenomena as does the shape of the Earth. Miracles do not as they involve free-will agents that are not material.

    Sean: With reference to some people somewhere thinking the Earth was flat? That seems to be what you are saying. Have you heard of the flat earth society? I was speaking historically, but people believe it today. The society I mentioned is something you should look up briefly. That should be sufficient to attest to the veracity of my claim about people believing the Earth is flat.

    Reply: Yes. There is a small segment today, but as you said, you were speaking historically. Can you show me these people in history?

    Sean: So you do not have to believe in the historical claim of a risen Christ because people claim to have seen it? Why then do you believe it? What makes this historical claim different from claims of other religions?

    Reply: Eyewitness testimony is one part, but not the only part. There is also the empty tomb. There is also the fact that in an honor-shame society a crucified Messiah would not fit in. There is the fact of the conversion of Paul and James, both of whom were skeptics. There is the fact that the ones who proclaimed the religion had nothing to gain from it and instead had everything to lose. (Certainly not the case with Muhammad and Joseph Smith.)

    That’s just a start. I am more than able to expound on any of those points.

    Sean: You would believe dragons exist if someone showed on to you? I don’t know that I would. I’d need a good bit more than that, like more than just a small group to see the dragon.

    Reply: Then how much? I can believe someone has a winning lottery ticket upon seeing it. If I saw a person at a funeral who was dead get out of that casket, I’d be convinced they resurrected.

    Sean: With regards to the Euthyphro dilemma, there’s some misunderstanding here. If you define goodness without respect to God, why does your explanation of goodness need to invoke god?

    Reply: Because goodness exists and goodness is not a material property as you can’t use scientific means to measure goodness. It is a metaphysical property and it needs some grounding for its existing. The knowledge is first epistemologically. God is first ontologically.

    Sean: Perhaps you could explain it with some parallel idea. The dilemma is that either you base goodness on god, or you don’t. Do you define goodness based on god. Your answer is no. Then your definition of good isn’t dependent on god.

    Reply: No. I define goodness apart from God. One does not need to know God in order to know what the good is and how to recognize it, but to have an ontological basis, one needs an explanation like God. I know of no better one.

    Sean: because the God of the five ways is so well defined?

    Reply: Actually, He is. He is a being of pure actuality and Aquinas takes you through in the prima pars at the start what can be known about Him apart from revelation. We can know Thor or Zeus don’t qualify as this being. It could be Allah for all we know as a Muslim could use the argument.

    Sean: Well, not quite. I’d say that what I value is good. That’s how I use my definitions. Well-being would be a goal, and striving for well-being is a means.

    Reply: Then you have just said what I said. You value something because you believe it is good. It might not be, but you think it is. Also, well-being is a goal. Does that mean we strive to be? Well what does that mean? Note you have also introduced teleology in here.

    Sean: If we are trying to define good, it’s of no use to use the word in the definition.

    Reply: The good is that at which all things aim. I did not use the word in there. Neither did Aristotle.

    Sean: And I’m not invoking teleology. I do not give a reason for valuing well-being. There is no innate purpose to being human. It’s just how I’d like to approach how we behave because that’s what want the world to be like.

    Reply: I would prefer to approach reality as it is at the start and then speak of how it should be from there. Looks like you’re basing your beliefs on what you want. You want to live in a world that values well-being, therefore we value you.

    What if I think I live in a world that values rape and pillage?

    Sean: I like the effects that that implies.

    Reply: Appeal to consequences. I can like the effects in a world where I’m allowed to rape and pillage.

    Sean: Now I think you’d just go one stem further, and justify your well being with God. But either you really value well-being, or you really value what God wants because he is god.

    Reply: I value being. I do that based on teleology. Furthermore, if God is and He is good, then all He does want in the end is good, but that is known after knowing what the good is. If I seek perfection, then I ultimately seek God.

    Sean: I you value well being, there is no need to appeal to a God.

    Reply: Ontological basis.

    Sean: If you value god, then he wins when he and well be ing are in conflict. Say for example, when he drowns the whole world except for eight people. That is now the good thing, over not killing the infants of the world. I’m just saying I pick the infants.

    Reply: And if you were the source of being and existence and did not owe anything to anyone and they owed everything to you, you might have a case. As it is, you don’t. This boils down to “God does things I don’t like.” If my view is true, my greatest joy is actually found in God. If I choose to go without Him, I get the consequences of that.

    Sean: you can define whatever you want, and I’ll agree with your definition because that’s how you defined it. But that’s very different from demonstrating that such a thing is existent. I could define unicorns to you, but that’s different from making them real.

    Reply: To show God is existent, I use the five ways. To show there is goodness, I show that you do anything whatsoever testifying to your belief in goodness. I just ask for your ontological basis for it.

    Sean: So when the heliocentric model was first proposed…? Aside from that, you’re aware that atheism is not new right? I promise it isn’t on it’s final legs, however much you don’t like that. But I’ll grant that religion isn’t either.

    Reply: No. Atheism isn’t new, but it is in the twilight of it. The new atheists are a great indication of that. Old atheists knew how to put forward an argument. The new ones don’t. Note also that my position is not about going with an idea because it is new. One must go with an idea that is true, but modern science today accepts something and then rejects it and the rejection is little noted. I want my foundation for my worldview to be secure.

    Sean: Not really. And does religion not change? Whatever happened to the slavery of the

    Old Testament?

    Reply: The slavery existed in a society that was an honor-shame society with a patron and a system designed to look out for the poor. The seeds of its eventual destruction were set in the Old Testament itself, but for a time it was needed because the poor had to work for someone in order to survive and the wealthy needed people to work for them. It was more of an indentured servitude than the slavery that existed in the Civil War time.

    Sean: Science is a method, not a body of knowledge. The method of basing beliefs on what is demonstrable really has not changed. The method is my worldview, not the knowledge.

    Reply: A method is not a worldview. A worldview consists of truth claims. A method does not.

    Sean: Yes, that’s why for scientifically possible things, history is what convinces me of the past. I agree we use them all, but we clearly disagree on where each is applicable.

    Reply: This assumes that the only things that can happen are what is scientifically possible. This has not been demonstrated and science cannot demonstrate it. Since science cannot demonstrate that only what is scientifically demonstrable can happen, we should not believe that only what is scientifically demonstrable can happen.

  • sean

    “No. I believe if miracles are not shown to be impossible, and they
    haven’t been, then one should be open to them. The possibility does not
    entail the actuality. I believe they have happened because I examined
    the evidence.”

    Okay. I agree we would be open, and I don’t think they are impossible, but unlike you, I have not accepted the evidence you have accepted to prove their truth value.

    “Your question can’t even be answered yes or no at the start because
    they either do or don’t make sound. Trees deal with purely natural
    phenomena as does the shape of the Earth. Miracles do not as they
    involve free-will agents that are not material.”

    And you can demonstrate that we are immaterial? I see no justification for that claim.

    “Yes. There is a small segment today, but as you said, you were speaking historically. Can you show me these people in history?”

    Sure. The Greeks before the classical period. There are lots more, but I think this is probably the group you’re most familiar with.

    “Eyewitness testimony is one part, but not the only part. There is
    also the empty tomb. There is also the fact that in an honor-shame
    society a crucified Messiah would not fit in. There is the fact of the
    conversion of Paul and James, both of whom were skeptics. There is the
    fact that the ones who proclaimed the religion had nothing to gain from
    it and instead had everything to lose. (Certainly not the case with
    Muhammad and Joseph Smith.)

    That’s just a start. I am more than able to expound on any of those points.”

    Interesting. I don’t know how we should proceed on this point. I’m happy to listen to evidence though. I don’t think any conversion stories or claims of how they had nothing to gain and everything to lose will convince me as a heads up, so I’d steer clear of trying that route. Perhaps the empty tomb would be a good starting point.

    “Then how much? I can believe someone has a winning lottery ticket upon
    seeing it. If I saw a person at a funeral who was dead get out of that
    casket, I’d be convinced they resurrected.”

    A lottery ticket is very different from a dragon, and I don’t know too much about the actual odds for the lottery, but that’s so much easier to believe than the dragon claim. Aside from that, maybe I won’t believe, but I can go look it up in the paper, or go with the person to claim their ticket, however that works. There are ways of independently verifying that claim. There are ways of independent verification on the dragon too, but that’s about the same to me as the alien abductions. There could easily be enough to convince me if we could study the creature, and have it known about and investigated by scientists. The best answer I can give to the dragon question is to say however much it would take it convince me aliens are visiting Earth.

    “Because goodness exists and goodness is not a material property as
    you can’t use scientific means to measure goodness. It is a metaphysical
    property and it needs some grounding for its existing. The knowledge is
    first epistemologically. God is first ontologically.”

    Goodness is a metaphysical property? Good is just a word. In fact, it’s such a definitionally problematic, loaded and diverse word, that I propose we instead speak strictly in terms of what we value, without using the word good.

    “Actually, He is.”

    Yeah, and that definition is about as specific as the definition for well-being.

    “Then you have just said what I said. You value something because you
    believe it is good. It might not be, but you think it is. Also,
    well-being is a goal. Does that mean we strive to be? Well what does
    that mean? Note you have also introduced teleology in here.”

    yeah, still no. I said what I value. Good is a term I use to describe what I value. I do not describe what I value in terms of goodness. I describe goodness in terms of what I value. It would be like mixing up determining how good a plane is based on it’s ability to fly, and then determining how ‘plane’ a thing is based on its ability to fly. Helicopters are not planes. Flying ability describes the plane, and goodness describes the value, not the other way around for either term. (at least for how I use them) That said, if you’re fine with it, I think dropping that term is still the best idea to eliminate confusion.

    “I would prefer to approach reality as it is at the start and then speak
    of how it should be from there. Looks like you’re basing your beliefs on
    what you want. You want to live in a world that values well-being,
    therefore we value you.”

    Yeah, I do want to live in a world like that. Is that problematic? I want what I like, if for no further reason than that’s how those words work when we say things.

    “What if I think I live in a world that values rape and pillage?”

    Well, your reaction would depend on whether or not you also hold those beliefs. If you do, then there’s no problem for you. Now if you don’t, perhaps you should try and convince others you are right. That’s what I do about Christianity.

    “Appeal to consequences. I can like the effects in a world where I’m allowed to rape and pillage.”

    Yes, you can. I’m sure many people who murder would like to live in a world where they don’t get in trouble for killing others. I don’t understand your point though.

    “I value being. I do that based on teleology. Furthermore, if God is and
    He is good, then all He does want in the end is good, but that is known
    after knowing what the good is. If I seek perfection, then I ultimately
    seek God.”

    Okay. So that’s what you value. Interesting. Not sure I’ve heard that before, but okay.

    “And if you were the source of being and existence and did not owe
    anything to anyone and they owed everything to you, you might have a
    case. As it is, you don’t.”

    Are we going for a might makes right here? I am actually probably more fine with you saying yes here than you are, I’m just clarifying. You seem to be saying that because God created us we owe him everything. True or no?

    “Ontological basis.”

    I don’t see that I need a basis for what I believe in terms of value. You seem to be saying that we can define what we value, but we still need to account for why we define it that way. I don’t see that that’s the case. For the same reason that I don’t have to prove 2 exists for two plus two to be useful and something I should use, I don’t think I need an ontological basis. Two only exists a conceptual sense. It’s a concept, and it’s useful. I don’t even think it’s a valid question to ask me to prove two exists. We use two because it’s useful. That’s the only justification we need as far as I can tell.

    “No. Atheism isn’t new, but it is in the twilight of it. The new atheists
    are a great indication of that. Old atheists knew how to put forward an
    argument. The new ones don’t. Note also that my position is not about
    going with an idea because it is new. One must go with an idea that is
    true, but modern science today accepts something and then rejects it and
    the rejection is little noted. I want my foundation for my worldview to
    be secure.”

    I want the foundation for my worldview to be right with respect to the evidence of reality more than I want it to be stable or secure. I could be super secure in Scientology. Would you sooner base a worldview on Scientology than on science, which looks for a demonstrable truth? I opt for truth over security, even if the truth is tentative.

    “The slavery existed in a society that was an honor-shame society with a
    patron and a system designed to look out for the poor. The seeds of its
    eventual destruction were set in the Old Testament itself, but for a
    time it was needed because the poor had to work for someone in order to
    survive and the wealthy needed people to work for them. It was more of
    an indentured servitude than the slavery that existed in the Civil War
    time.”

    What cones out of the slavery stuff is third most upsetting idea Christianity has ever offered, in my opinion. Your religion honestly makes you believe there’s justification for the idea of owning other people. First off, you don’t understand what the Bible actually says about slavery. The ‘indentured servitude’ only applies to other Jews. Non-Jewish slavery is forever. And non-Jews don’t get to own other slaves, because the Jews are God’s chosen people. Talk about a justification for racism! Only Jews can own slaves. Non-Jews can be slaves forever, and Jews owning Jews is only for 6 years except for the part where there’s an exception to the rule that you have to let him go in his seventh year part. The Bible specifically endorses the idea that if you beat your slave so badly that he dies, as long as it took a day or two for it to happen you do not get punished for it, so don’t go telling me it wasn’t cruel. Aside from physical cruelty, you are still owning other people as property. That’s wrong even if you don’t beat your slaves. And as far as indentured servitude, even though it’s not really applicable as a defense, even if it were, that’s also wrong. Perhaps you should go reread Exodus 21 and 22 before you get yourself too deep in defending this part of the Bible. It’s pretty messed up. There’s some good stuff there, but mostly it’s not.

    “A method is not a worldview. A worldview consists of truth claims. A method does not.”

    True enough, it would be more accurate to say that science and skepticism are both methods that I use to inform my worldview.

    “This assumes that the only things that can happen are what is
    scientifically possible. This has not been demonstrated and science
    cannot demonstrate it. Since science cannot demonstrate that only what
    is scientifically demonstrable can happen, we should not believe that
    only what is scientifically demonstrable can happen.”

    No it assumes that we cannot be justified in claims that are not demonstrable. Justified belief and truth are two different things.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Okay. I agree we would be open, and I don’t think they are impossible, but unlike you, I have not accepted the evidence you have accepted to prove their truth value.

    Reply: Then you need to go through Keener’s book first.

    Sean: And you can demonstrate that we are immaterial? I see no justification for that claim.

    Reply: I said nothing about us, even though I think there is some immaterial component to us. I said free-will agents that are not material. That could be God, angels, demons, etc.

    Sean: Sure. The Greeks before the classical period. There are lots more, but I think this is probably the group you’re most familiar with.

    Reply: Got any evidence?

    Sean: Interesting. I don’t know how we should proceed on this point. I’m happy to listen to evidence though. I don’t think any conversion stories or claims of how they had nothing to gain and everything to lose will convince me as a heads up, so I’d steer clear of trying that route. Perhaps the empty tomb would be a good starting point.

    Reply: The empty tomb is multiply attested as all four gospels mention it, it would have been a necessity of some sorts seeing as if there was still a body there, there would be no reason for saying the tomb was empty. The majority of scholars hold to the empty tomb. The earliest polemic we have in response to Christianity in Matthew 28:11-15 claims that the tomb was empty. There is no disputing by anyone that the body was in the tomb still in the early Christian period. The creed in 1 Cor. 15 speaks of being buried and raised which implies that what went down is what came up. I believe some others you can check on this are Geza Vermes and Dale Allison, neither are evangelical Christians.

    Sean: A lottery ticket is very different from a dragon, and I don’t know too much about the actual odds for the lottery, but that’s so much easier to believe than the dragon claim. Aside from that, maybe I won’t believe, but I can go look it up in the paper, or go with the person to claim their ticket, however that works. There are ways of independently verifying that claim. There are ways of independent verification on the dragon too, but that’s about the same to me as the alien abductions. There could easily be enough to convince me if we could study the creature, and have it known about and investigated by scientists. The best answer I can give to the dragon question is to say however much it would take it convince me aliens are visiting Earth.

    Reply: And for me, that would take sight. If I see something I am convinced is an alien, I will say “Well I guess I was wrong in my skepticism and there are aliens after all.”

    Sean: Goodness is a metaphysical property? Good is just a word. In fact, it’s such a definitionally problematic, loaded and diverse word, that I propose we instead speak strictly in terms of what we value, without using the word good.

    Reply: No. Value is subjective. The only reason you value something is because you think that it is good. The definition I have given is Aristotle’s and I have not been presented with any fault in it. Values is a term from Nietzsche since it’s subjective and he wanted to avoid objective goodness. He would tell new atheists today who want to hold to objective morality that they’re atheistic wimps and they cannot have atheism and objective morality both.

    Sean: Yeah, and that definition is about as specific as the definition for well-being.

    Reply: Actually, it is. It’s using good old Aristotlean and Medieval terminology.

    Sean: yeah, still no. I said what I value. Good is a term I use to describe what I value. I do not describe what I value in terms of goodness. I describe goodness in terms of what I value. It would be like mixing up determining how good a plane is based on it’s ability to fly, and then determining how ‘plane’ a thing is based on its ability to fly. Helicopters are not planes. Flying ability describes the plane, and goodness describes the value, not the other way around for either term. (at least for how I use them) That said, if you’re fine with it, I think dropping that term is still the best idea to eliminate confusion.

    Reply: No. I am by no means fine with it. If an atheistic universe cannot explain goodness and has to resort to just values, then I see that view as even more bankrupt. I would also say the desire for X depends on X having some trait first. You do not put a trait on it but you discover one in it.

    Sean: Yeah, I do want to live in a world like that. Is that problematic? I want what I like, if for no further reason than that’s how those words work when we say things.

    Reply: Then the objection is simple enough. What happens when everyone just goes after wanting what they like and getting it just for their own well-being?

    Sean: Well, your reaction would depend on whether or not you also hold those beliefs. If you do, then there’s no problem for you. Now if you don’t, perhaps you should try and convince others you are right. That’s what I do about Christianity.

    Reply: Let’s suppose I do. Why should I not rape and pillage?

    Sean: Yes, you can. I’m sure many people who murder would like to live in a world where they don’t get in trouble for killing others. I don’t understand your point though.

    Reply: I’m living entirely consistent with your world view. We just have different values, but I’m living according to mine in that world. Why should I regard your values or anyone else’s over mine?

    Sean: Okay. So that’s what you value. Interesting. Not sure I’ve heard that before, but okay.

    Reply: IT’s a simple metaphysical concept. Something is good insofar as it is.

    Sean: Are we going for a might makes right here? I am actually probably more fine with you saying yes here than you are, I’m just clarifying. You seem to be saying that because God created us we owe him everything. True or no?

    Reply: Yep. If you think otherwise, then tell on what basis He owes you anything.

    Sean: I don’t see that I need a basis for what I believe in terms of value. You seem to be saying that we can define what we value, but we still need to account for why we define it that way. I don’t see that that’s the case. For the same reason that I don’t have to prove 2 exists for two plus two to be useful and something I should use, I don’t think I need an ontological basis. Two only exists a conceptual sense. It’s a concept, and it’s useful. I don’t even think it’s a valid question to ask me to prove two exists. We use two because it’s useful. That’s the only justification we need as far as I can tell.

    Reply: Then your worldview will end in moral relativism and there’s no good or evil at all but thinking makes it so. Such a worldview will in the end also destroy the science you love so much.

    Sean: I want the foundation for my worldview to be right with respect to the evidence of reality more than I want it to be stable or secure. I could be super secure in Scientology. Would you sooner base a worldview on Scientology than on science, which looks for a demonstrable truth? I opt for truth over security, even if the truth is tentative.

    Reply: You’re reading too much into this. By saying secure, I mean I want it on a good foundation of truth. I don’t want the basis for my worldview to be changing with every single experiment. I want it to have been something tried and tested that has stood the test of time.

    Christianity passes with flying colors.

    Sean: What cones out of the slavery stuff is third most upsetting idea Christianity has ever offered, in my opinion. Your religion honestly makes you believe there’s justification for the idea of owning other people.

    Reply: We do it still today. If your employer lays you off, you are in a bind then as you have to rely on another source of income. For the time being, he has much of your life in his hands.

    Sean: First off, you don’t understand what the Bible actually says about slavery. The ‘indentured servitude’ only applies to other Jews. Non-Jewish slavery is forever. And non-Jews don’t get to own other slaves, because the Jews are God’s chosen people. Talk about a justification for racism! Only Jews can own slaves. Non-Jews can be slaves forever, and Jews owning Jews is only for 6 years except for the part where there’s an exception to the rule that you have to let him go in his seventh year part.

    REply: Yeah. There’s a simple solution to this. Become a Jew. Why should someone get the blessings of the covenant if they are not part of the covenant. Also, racism is more of a mdoern phenomenon. The problem with races back then was not things like the color of their skin, but their behavior. Sorry, but you don’t understand slavery in the Bible or ancient culture.

    Sean: The Bible specifically endorses the idea that if you beat your slave so badly that he dies, as long as it took a day or two for it to happen you do not get punished for it, so don’t go telling me it wasn’t cruel.

    Reply: You really should read some books on slavery in the ANE. Physical discipline was the only kind of discipline that they had! What was the situation in this case? The owner owns the slave and that slave is income. He’s not going to want to kill the slave or else he loses out! If we cannot know, we give the benefit of the doubt and the owner loses out and it will make it far less likely for any other poor person to hire themselves out to them in the future.

    Sean: Aside from physical cruelty, you are still owning other people as property. That’s wrong even if you don’t beat your slaves. And as far as indentured servitude, even though it’s not really applicable as a defense, even if it were, that’s also wrong.

    REply: Note I also said the system was less than ideal. At the time, to destroy it would have been to ruin the civilization at the time because people had to produce income sometime, including the poor, and they had to work for someone, especially when they had no homes of their own. THe best way was to live with someone and put their life in their hands.

    The reality is you’re just someone in an individualistic culture not seeing how an honor-shame one works. Individualism meant nothing to them.

    Sean: Perhaps you should go reread Exodus 21 and 22 before you get yourself too deep in defending this part of the Bible. It’s pretty messed up.

    Reply: Oh I’ve discussed it with moderns who are prejudiced enough. Even written on it.

    Sean: There’s some good stuff there, but mostly it’s not.

    Reply; It makes a lot more sense when you bother to understand ANE culture.

    Sean: True enough, it would be more accurate to say that science and skepticism are both methods that I use to inform my worldview.

    Reply: As anyone should, but are they the foundational methods? If so, then you have problems. Science cannot prove its own criteria and skepticism is a reason to not believe something instead of a reason to believe something. A worldview should say what you believe and not what you don’t believe.

    Sean: No it assumes that we cannot be justified in claims that are not demonstrable. Justified belief and truth are two different things.

    Reply: Demonstrable does not mean scientifically demonstrable. Also, there are plenty of claims we’re justified in believing that we can’t demonstrate. I’m justified in believing what time it was when I went to sleep last night. I can’t demonstrate it, but I’m justified. I’m justified in believing what I had for dinner last night. I can’t demonstrate that. I’m justified in believing the world exists outside my mind. I can’t demonstrate it, but I’m justified in it.

  • sean

    “Then you need to go through Keener’s book first.”

    Which demonstrates that people saw phenomena they claim were miracles of God… a demonstration different from that God actually made these things happen.

    “I said nothing about us, even though I think there is some immaterial
    component to us. I said free-will agents that are not material. That
    could be God, angels, demons, etc.”

    We are not free will agents? I was asking about the immaterial free-will component of us you claim we have, not the material part. It’s obvious we are at least partly material in a physical sense, but not so with the immaterial part.

    “The empty tomb is multiply attested as all four gospels mention it, it
    would have been a necessity of some sorts seeing as if there was still a
    body there, there would be no reason for saying the tomb was empty.”

    Nor would there be any reason to say some people were there who were not, but my understanding is that that’s under dispute within the Gospels. You cannot just claim there’s no reason to stuff because you don’t see one. That’s argument from ignorance. If that were true this would would be a whole lot simpler.

    “And for me, that would take sight. If I see something I am convinced is
    an alien, I will say “Well I guess I was wrong in my skepticism and
    there are aliens after all.””

    By definition we all would believe we ere wrong once we were convinced it was an alien. My point was that I would not imminently be convinced it was even if I saw something that landed in a saucer.

    “No. Value is subjective. The only reason you value something is because
    you think that it is good. The definition I have given is Aristotle’s
    and I have not been presented with any fault in it. Values is a term
    from Nietzsche since it’s subjective and he wanted to avoid objective
    goodness. He would tell new atheists today who want to hold to objective
    morality that they’re atheistic wimps and they cannot have atheism and
    objective morality both.”

    I don’t care what the term used to mean. Language evolves. I do not define my terms such that value is based on good, rather good is based on value. I don’t care how other people did it so long as we can have clear terms for our conversation. Just because there is no fault in one does not mean it’s the only way. If I say it is not wrong to eat a pickle, well it’s also not wrong to not eat it. Words are just a tool. They can take on any definition we feel like. Again on the objective vs. subjective debate, it’s a false dichotomy. All beliefs are objective with respect to something, but why we base it on that always breaks down to subjective at some point along the chain.

    When people say objective morality, they are talking about it in terms of some basis. When people say subjective morality, that refers to why you chose that basis.

    “You’re reading too much into this. By saying secure, I mean I want it
    on a good foundation of truth. I don’t want the basis for my worldview
    to be changing with every single experiment. I want it to have been
    something tried and tested that has stood the test of time.

    Christianity passes with flying colors.”

    So has teaching little kids about the tooth fairy. The Greek and Roman gods were around for longer than Christianity, does that make them more right? The simple thing is that when the issue is not really settled yet, I don’t go with the latest experiment. It takes time to double-check the veracity of the testing in the experiment. The idea of gravity isn’t going anywhere, as far as science is concerned and neither is evolution. And guess what, I believe in those claims more strongly than claims about the origin of the universe. When Einstein accepted steady state, it was because there was not as much evidence back then for the big bang theory. But as more evidence comes in to confirm the model, we become more sure of it. Also, science gives me germ theory of disease, so I wash my hands. My worldview is far healthier than one that does not accept the big theories in science.

    “We do it still today. If your employer lays you off, you are in a bind
    then as you have to rely on another source of income. For the time
    being, he has much of your life in his hands.”

    So why didn’t they just do that then and let people realize that quitting a job is dumb, instead of forcing them into slavery? The two are very different.

    “Yeah. There’s a simple solution to this. Become a Jew. Why should
    someone get the blessings of the covenant if they are not part of the
    covenant.”

    Really? If I rejected Judaism back then I deserve to be a slave?

    Also, racism is more of a modern phenomenon. The problem with
    races back then was not things like the color of their skin, but their
    behavior. Sorry, but you don’t understand slavery in the Bible or
    ancient culture.”

    That’s really helpful so long as I’m a man. And I understand slavery pretty well actually, which I’ll better demonstrate with my next point.

    “You really should read some books on slavery in the ANE. Physical
    discipline was the only kind of discipline that they had! What was the
    situation in this case? The owner owns the slave and that slave is
    income. He’s not going to want to kill the slave or else he loses out!
    If we cannot know, we give the benefit of the doubt and the owner loses
    out and it will make it far less likely for any other poor person to
    hire themselves out to them in the future.”

    Where did I say slavery meant perpetual beatings? I know they were not stupid enough to beat their slaves all the time, because that hurts your production. But the same was true in The American South, yet somehow those are different? I never said they all beat their slaves, the point is that God says it’s allowed. That’s my problem. And as far as being hired out, that’s not what slavery is. Sure there are some instances where that applies, but not if you’re the heathen surrounding the Jews. (Don’t quite remember which passage that’s from) You’re going back to the indentured servitude idea, which only applied to the Jews. Non-Jews were just slaves.

    “Note I also said the system was less than ideal. At the time, to destroy
    it would have been to ruin the civilization at the time because people
    had to produce income sometime, including the poor, and they had to work
    for someone, especially when they had no homes of their own. The best
    way was to live with someone and put their life in their hands.”

    That system is viable even if you are free to walk from the situation at any point in time; but they were not. That extra property step isn’t justified.

    Also, God changed quite a bit about their culture, and he’s God. Don’t they owe him everything anyways? What’s wrong with him explaining the idea of not slavery working out for them. Our culture managed to figure it out without God.

    “The reality is you’re just someone in an individualistic culture not seeing how an honor-shame one works. Individualism meant nothing to them.”

    I do understand honer-shame societies. As I recall, that system produce the Rape of Nan-King and Kamikaze fighters. in WWII. I happen to think honor-shame societies are immoral too, so no thanks to working within that system to evaluate actions. It’s one of the reason’s I consider Christianity immoral. The religion teaches us that by virtue of existing we are deserving of eternal punishment for the sins of Adam, a different person. That’s like saying you deserve the death penalty because your brother is a murderer. It makes no sense and is ridiculously immoral.

    “Oh I’ve discussed it with moderns who are prejudiced enough. Even written on it.”

    Interesting. What’s your take on it in general? Some say it isn’t from God, some like probably you (that’s my guess anyways), have convinced yourselves that there are justifications for all of those actions. Some have other ideas about it. What do you think about it?

    “It makes a lot more sense when you bother to understand ANE culture.”

    It sure does, but that’s like saying murder makes more sense if you’re a drug trafficker. It’s true but does not matter with what we are talking about, which is is the thing moral.

    “As anyone should, but are they the foundational methods? If so, then you
    have problems. Science cannot prove its own criteria and skepticism is a
    reason to not believe something instead of a reason to believe something. A worldview should say what you believe and not what you don’t believe.”

    If you are going to justify science with respect to something else, then that’s different from describing it as the foundation. If I want to describe it as a base it gets a little but circular, but not much. I could justify it with things like the germ theory of disease. Science works. That’s a pretty good justification in my opinion. Sure you could say that there was no reason prior to using science to think it would work, but today we have seen how it does work, so that doesn’t apply to us. And talking about the need for evidence before belief, which is skepticism in my book, is absolutely a part of a worldview.

    ” Demonstrable does not mean scientifically demonstrable. Also, there are plenty of claims we’re justified in believing that we can’t demonstrate. I’m justified in believing what time it was when I went to sleep last night. I can’t demonstrate it, but I’m justified. I’m
    justified in believing what I had for dinner last night. I can’t demonstrate that. I’m justified in believing the world exists outside my mind. I can’t demonstrate it, but I’m justified in it.”

    Well, aside from the fact that you could demonstrate scientifically your examples in some circumstances, I do agree that demonstrable and scientifically demonstrable are different. The cat is a feline. That’s not science, but it’s demonstrably true.

    That said, if you think that you can be justified in a belief that isn’t demonstrable, then you are using a different meaning for ether demonstrable or justified, because my definitions of those words require that justification comes from demonstrable truth. You are justified based on evidence, and the evidence of your memory should serve as justification. If you cannot demonstrate to yourself through any means, one of which could be memory, that you had thing x for dinner last night, say for example you don’t remember eating, then until you ask your wife about it or remember it again, you are actually unjustified in claiming you ate anything, let alone a specific dish.

  • Alden Smith

    Bill, I’m dealing with a hyper skeptic on Strange Notions. I keep posting arguments for the existence of God and that faith is reasonable he just keeps laughing them down saying my level of skepticism is to low and and that hopefully I will change someday.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: Which demonstrates that people saw phenomena they claim were miracles of God… a demonstration different from that God actually made these things happen.

    Reply: I really admire this ability people have to know what’s in a book without having read it. I wish I had it. It would save me a lot of time.

    Yet an excuse to avoid engaging with what one disagrees with.

    Sean: We are not free will agents? I was asking about the immaterial free-will component of us you claim we have, not the material part. It’s obvious we are at least partly material in a physical sense, but not so with the immaterial part.

    Reply: Actually, no. I again wasn’t saying anything about us. That some agents with free-will are immaterial does not mean that all agents with free-will are.

    Sean: Nor would there be any reason to say some people were there who were not, but my understanding is that that’s under dispute within the Gospels. You cannot just claim there’s no reason to stuff because you don’t see one. That’s argument from ignorance. If that were true this would would be a whole lot simpler.

    Reply: Actually, no. This is simple fact. If a body is in the tomb, the charge could not get off the ground that the tomb is empty. As for the people who were there at the tomb, this is why you read Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.” Furthermore, if you want to say something is under dispute, then go ahead, but so is everything else under dispute. Dispute is not a reason to ignore the evidence by reading leading scholars.

    Sean: By definition we all would believe we ere wrong once we were convinced it was an alien. My point was that I would not imminently be convinced it was even if I saw something that landed in a saucer.

    REply: Then I wonder how high you set your bar. I have no problem with skepticism, but there is one with unreasonable skepticism.

    Sean: I don’t care what the term used to mean.

    Reply: Okay. That’s your problem. I do care because whoever controls language will control it to their advantage. I see no reason to replace a perfectly fine term with another one just to make someone’s worldview fit.

    Sean: Language evolves. I do not define my terms such that value is based on good, rather good is based on value.

    REply: Then you have it backwards.

    Sean: I don’t care how other people did it so long as we can have clear terms for our conversation. Just because there is no fault in one does not mean it’s the only way.

    Reply; If there’s no fault with the language, there is no need to change it.

    Sean: If I say it is not wrong to eat a pickle, well it’s also not wrong to not eat it. Words are just a tool. They can take on any definition we feel like.

    Reply: Please stop abusing animals.

    Sean: Again on the objective vs. subjective debate, it’s a false dichotomy. All beliefs are objective with respect to something, but why we base it on that always breaks down to subjective at some point along the chain.

    Reply: I suppose I can see why it would be difficult for a non-theist to base beliefs on objective evidence.

    Sean: When people say objective morality, they are talking about it in terms of some basis. When people say subjective morality, that refers to why you chose that basis.

    Reply: Subjective morality is a contradiction in terms. Morality is doing what you ought to do. You do not choose what you ought to do. Duty is imposed from without.

    Sean: So has teaching little kids about the tooth fairy.

    REply: No. You don’t find adults going around believing in the tooth fairy, but you do find several who are brilliant minds who convert to Christianity.

    Sean: The Greek and Roman gods were around for longer than Christianity, does that make them more right?

    Reply: Would have been nice if that had been my argument.

    Sean: The simple thing is that when the issue is not really settled yet, I don’t go with the latest experiment. It takes time to double-check the veracity of the testing in the experiment. The idea of gravity isn’t going anywhere, as far as science is concerned and neither is evolution. And guess what, I believe in those claims more strongly than claims about the origin of the universe. When Einstein accepted steady state, it was because there was not as much evidence back then for the big bang theory. But as more evidence comes in to confirm the model, we become more sure of it. Also, science gives me germ theory of disease, so I wash my hands. My worldview is far healthier than one that does not accept the big theories in science.

    Reply: I have no problem with many of those theories due to we have more evidence than before, but I make no statement on them. I would argue that the universe has a beginning for instance, but not being a scientist, I have no way that I could actually make the argument. On evolution, I claim to not know. Even if I claimed any side, I could in no way argue scientifically for or against it, so why bother? My worldview doesn’t depend on it.

    MY only stance is hold to that which is tested and true and too often, the good science of one day is the junk science of the next.

    Sean: So why didn’t they just do that then and let people realize that quitting a job is dumb, instead of forcing them into slavery? The two are very different.

    REply: Because back then you didn’t have a refrigerator you could keep food in or easy access to clothes and water. You were a day-wage earner. You had to work every day to live. If you were to quit, then you would die because you had no way of providing for your needs.

    Sean: Really? If I rejected Judaism back then I deserve to be a slave?

    Reply: If you are not part of the covenant, why should you get the benefits of being in the covenant?

    Sean: That’s really helpful so long as I’m a man. And I understand slavery pretty well actually, which I’ll better demonstrate with my next point.

    Reply: And keep in mind, the Bible elevated women. Men and women both are equally in the image of God for instance, and that’s from the first statement made about women.

    Sean: Where did I say slavery meant perpetual beatings? I know they were not stupid enough to beat their slaves all the time, because that hurts your production. But the same was true in The American South, yet somehow those are different? I never said they all beat their slaves, the point is that God says it’s allowed.

    Reply: This would apply if I had said anything about perpetual beating.

    Sean: That’s my problem. And as far as being hired out, that’s not what slavery is.

    Reply: That’s what it was in the world at the time. You had to work to live. You don’t look at modern slavery and then read that into the text. You see what they meant by slavery.

    Sean: Sure there are some instances where that applies, but not if you’re the heathen surrounding the Jews. (Don’t quite remember which passage that’s from) You’re going back to the indentured servitude idea, which only applied to the Jews. Non-Jews were just slaves.

    Reply: Correct. If you weren’t part of the covenant, you didn’t get the blessings. What would you prefer they do? If they kill them, you complain. If they don’t, you complain. Non-Jews still had to earn a living. They still had to work to survive. Again, the solution was simple. Become a Jew and earn your freedom.

    SEan: That system is viable even if you are free to walk from the situation at any point in time; but they were not. That extra property step isn’t justified.

    Reply: Not viable back then. The slave was in fact to be treated like a human entirely and the system in Israel was above every other system of the time.

    Sean: Also, God changed quite a bit about their culture, and he’s God. Don’t they owe him everything anyways? What’s wrong with him explaining the idea of not slavery working out for them. Our culture managed to figure it out without God.

    Reply: No we didn’t. The great abolitionists at the start were Christians. Look back at Bathilda and at William Wilberforce and others. Also, cultures change gradually over time in preparation based on where humanity is.

    Sean: I do understand honer-shame societies. As I recall, that system produce the Rape of Nan-King and Kamikaze fighters. in WWII. I happen to think honor-shame societies are immoral too, so no thanks to working within that system to evaluate actions.

    Reply: Ah. Then you’re a bigot! Got it! When a disaster hit Japan, people were lined up waiting to get help and how many problems did they have with looters? None whatsoever. Why? Because they have an honor-based system that says it is dishonorable to steal from those in need.

    When we have Katrina hit, we have to have the police come to stop rioters and people looting from one another.

    Individualism allows every man to be a god unto himself. An honor based system makes the community check itself. If that community has a bent towards evil, it can have its own problems, but a community can also check itself for good.

    Sean:It’s one of the reason’s I consider Christianity immoral. The religion teaches us that by virtue of existing we are deserving of eternal punishment for the sins of Adam, a different person.

    Reply: No it doesn’t. What will your judgment be based on? Won’t be based a bit on what Adam did. It will be based on what you did.

    Sean: That’s like saying you deserve the death penalty because your brother is a murderer. It makes no sense and is ridiculously immoral.

    Reply: Note also this just ignores any evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.

    Sean: Interesting. What’s your take on it in general? Some say it isn’t from God, some like probably you (that’s my guess anyways), have convinced yourselves that there are justifications for all of those actions. Some have other ideas about it. What do you think about it?

    Reply: To say justifications begs the question. I’d want to see what you’ve studied on the ANE culture so we can discuss the evidence.

    Sean: It sure does, but that’s like saying murder makes more sense if you’re a drug trafficker. It’s true but does not matter with what we are talking about, which is is the thing moral.

    Reply; Actually, it does. To understand a culture, you have to, you know, understand the culture.

    Sean: If you are going to justify science with respect to something else, then that’s different from describing it as the foundation. If I want to describe it as a base it gets a little but circular, but not much. I could justify it with things like the germ theory of disease. Science works.

    Reply: it could work just as well in Berkeley’s system that held to the non-existence of matter.

    Sean: That’s a pretty good justification in my opinion. Sure you could say that there was no reason prior to using science to think it would work, but today we have seen how it does work, so that doesn’t apply to us. And talking about the need for evidence before belief, which is skepticism in my book, is absolutely a part of a worldview.

    Reply: And yet to know that this is how you approach evidence and that there is evidence to approach, you need a basis in at least common sense realism, which is not and cannot be determined by science.

    Sean: Well, aside from the fact that you could demonstrate scientifically your examples in some circumstances, I do agree that demonstrable and scientifically demonstrable are different. The cat is a feline. That’s not science, but it’s demonstrably true.

    Reply: Correct.

    Sean:That said, if you think that you can be justified in a belief that isn’t demonstrable, then you are using a different meaning for ether demonstrable or justified, because my definitions of those words require that justification comes from demonstrable truth. You are justified based on evidence, and the evidence of your memory should serve as justification. If you cannot demonstrate to yourself through any means, one of which could be memory, that you had thing x for dinner last night, say for example you don’t remember eating, then until you ask your wife about it or remember it again, you are actually unjustified in claiming you ate anything, let alone a specific dish.

    Reply: Sure, but if I have a memory of it and I have no reason to think that memory false, I have justification. My memory could be mistaken, but I have justification.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    I would recommend you quit wasting your time with this person and move on to someone who will actually listen to you and try to understand what you’re saying. Remember that hyper-skeptics are not interested in learning from you. They are already quite sure that they are right.

  • sean

    “I really admire this ability people have to know what’s in a book without having read it. I wish I had it. It would save me a lot of time.”

    It would. You should look into developing that skill.

    “Actually, no. I again wasn’t saying anything about us. That some agents with free-will are immaterial does not mean that all agents with free-will are.”

    Fair enough.

    “Actually, no. This is simple fact. If a body is in the tomb, the charge could not get off the ground that the tomb is empty.”

    Wait, what? That’s like saying if aliens didn’t visit Earth, the claim that they did could never get off the ground. Sure it could.

    “As for the people who were there at the tomb, this is why you read Bauckham’s ‘Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.’ Furthermore, if you want to say something is under dispute, then go ahead, but so is everything else under dispute. Dispute is not a reason to ignore the evidence by reading leading scholars.”

    I’ll just take your word for it that it’s a settled matter. On that, I really don’t care all that much.

    “Then I wonder how high you set your bar. I have no problem with skepticism, but there is one with unreasonable skepticism.”

    So people who think they experience aliens abducting them, and then chose to believe aliens abducted them, they are applying the proper level of skepticism? What happens if you see Ra, the Egyptian sun god appear before you? You going to believe it? Visual evidence isn’t enough for Ra, aliens or dragons.

    “Please stop abusing animals.”

    Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

    I don’t see that I’m asserting you believe a basis you don’t accept here. My point was simply that these terms can be looked at in multiple ways.

    “I suppose I can see why it would be difficult for a non-theist to base beliefs on objective evidence.”

    Depending on what level you’re talking, I’m glad you understand. Now can you understand that the same is true for theistic beliefs? And to be clear, when you’re talking about evidence, you’re aware this conversation is about why we value what we value. At some point, everyone, theist or otherwise, we do not have justification for what we value, or if you would like different terms, we don’t have a justification for why we ought to. We only have it with respect to a thing, and at some point, we cannot say why we have it with respect to that thing. For example, if you were to explain that we out to do what God wants because he knows what is best for us, well why should we value what’s best for us? Or if it’s because he created us, well why should we care about that? It breaks down for everyone at some point.

    “Subjective morality is a contradiction in terms. Morality is doing what you ought to do. You do not choose what you ought to do. Duty is imposed from without.”

    I think I agree with that.

    “No. You don’t find adults going around believing in the tooth fairy, but you do find several who are brilliant minds who convert to Christianity.”

    You’ll find brilliant minds who believe all sorts of things about religion, including many who follow a religion different from your own. I was talking about an idea that withstood time that we consider wrong. But if you don’t like the tooth fairy, how about atheism or any old religion.

    “Would have been nice if that had been my argument.”

    It was. You think there’s some value in withstanding the test of time and having smart people believe your religion. Again, if you don’t like that particular example, how about atheism or any old religion.

    “I have no problem with many of those theories due to we have more evidence than before, but I make no statement on them. I would argue that the universe has a beginning for instance, but not being a scientist, I have no way that I could actually make the argument. On evolution, I claim to not know. Even if I claimed any side, I could in no way argue scientifically for or against it, so why bother?”

    Okay.

    “My worldview doesn’t depend on it.”

    Why do you wash your hands? It’s because of science’s germ theory of disease. Your actions are highly dependent on science, as is your view of the world. (I should think and hope) There are a great many examples of science playing into how you view the world. Certainly not everything, but that’s different from your worldview not depending on it.

    “MY only stance is hold to that which is tested and true and too often, the good science of one day is the junk science of the next.”

    The exact same could be said of christian interpretations of the Bible. People used it to justify slavery in the south and beating their children. That’s not so accepted anymore. Granted the child beating still is in some circles, but it’s certainly far less so. Teachers cannot do it anymore for example, and far fewer parents do.

    “Because back then you didn’t have a refrigerator you could keep food in or easy access to clothes and water. You were a day-wage earner. You had to work every day to live. If you were to quit, then you would die because you had no way of providing for your needs.”

    If you had another place of work all lined up though…

    “If you are not part of the covenant, why should you get the benefits of being in the covenant?”

    Because people don’t deserve to be slaves. Why is not being enslaved a benefit of the covenant? That’s like saying well, if you wanted food you just gotta convert to judaism. Why should god allow the food to grow on lands not controlled by Jews. The answer is because he shouldn’t be a complete; the only words that fit the end of this statement will probably get my comment removed.

    “And keep in mind, the Bible elevated women. Men and women both are equally in the image of God for instance, and that’s from the first statement made about women.”

    The first statement is that they were created, not created equally. This book describes women as being unclean when they are on their period, and that they shouldn’t be touched, and that whatever they touch will become unclean. How’s that for elevating the female gender?

    “This would apply if I had said anything about perpetual beating.”

    Well you seemed upset because I said beating was allowed. Your response was that there were other methods of keeping them in line, and that if you incapacitated your slaves they couldn’t work as well. I agreed, and pointed out that they could also be nice to the slaves. But so too can a child molester be nice to the clid he or she molests sometimes. That does not validate the actions of molesting a child. And The slaves could be beaten. Moreover, if the slaves die, you may not punish the slave-owner for killing the slave so long as the timeframe is sufficiently long between the beating and the death. The justification for this, the slave is the property of his master. Since when is it okay for me to not be punished for murder that isn’t in self-defense? Slaves are valued far less than other humans in this society. They are property before people, and God ordained it. That’s the issue. I can break my own slave like I can break my own lamp, just because it’s mine and that’s okay??!

    “That’s what it was in the world at the time. You had to work to live. You don’t look at modern slavery and then read that into the text. You see what they meant by slavery.”

    Guess what you have to do now, work. I see that by slavery they meant human beings are property of other human beings. That’s what they meant by slavery, and it’s morally atrocious.

    “Correct. If you weren’t part of the covenant, you didn’t get the blessings. What would you prefer they do? If they kill them, you complain. If they don’t, you complain. Non-Jews still had to earn a living. They still had to work to survive. Again, the solution was simple. Become a Jew and earn your freedom.”

    I’d prefer that you stop buying your slaves from the heathen around you. Just leave ‘em be!

    “Not viable back then. The slave was in fact to be treated like a human entirely and the system in Israel was above every other system of the time.”

    So now we are saying God just has to be better than the humans of the time? I thought he had to be perfect. So what if other societies had slavery. God shouldn’t allow it. And the slave was absolutely not treated as human. They were property first. If my mother kills me in today’s society because she beat me to death after I didn’t do my chores, she’ll get the death penalty or prison for life depending on the state. What won’t happen is she’ll pay a fine and then be done with it. But that was what happened with slaves. If I kill your slave, I owe you money. Not I deserve to die for killing another human, I owe you money. Don’t tell me that’s an acceptable way for you and I to treat an innocent man’s life. That’s sickeningly grotesque.

    “No we didn’t. The great abolitionists at the start were Christians. Look back at Bathilda and at William Wilberforce and others. Also, cultures change gradually over time in preparation based on where humanity is.”

    The main point there was not that we did it without God, but that God should demand that they change their ways. He did it when it came to the sins of other nations. They were ordered to stop, and when they didn’t they all got killed.

    “Individualism allows every man to be a god unto himself. An honor based system makes the community check itself. If that community has a bent towards evil, it can have its own problems, but a community can also check itself for good.”

    Sure, absolute individualism isn’t good either. There’s a happy medium though, and it doesn’t coincide with humans being property.

    “No it doesn’t. What will your judgment be based on? Won’t be based a bit on what Adam did. It will be based on what you did.”

    Perhaps I’m not representing your specific views, since there are differences, but the idea that we all hold within us original sin is pretty common. But if that misrepresents your view then I’ll not bother trying to see with you whether or not it’s wrong, since we’re in agreement.

    “Note also this just ignores any evidence that Jesus rose from the dead.”

    Huh? Even if we accept that he did for this discussion, the idea is that he still had to die to absolve us of that sin in the first place. So fine, before Jesus died it’s what we all would have deserved based on what someone else did.

    “To say justifications begs the question. I’d want to see what you’ve studied on the ANE culture so we can discuss the evidence.”

    Sure, the Bible shows that their culture considered some humans as property. As a humanist, and a decent person I might add, I’m not going to bother looking further than that. Whether or not they thought it was acceptable based on their value of humans has no bearing on whether or not God should allow slavery.

    “Actually, it does. To understand a culture, you have to, you know, understand the culture.”

    Yeah, I agreed that within that culture it’s more okay. But should that mean God will excuse the Jewish drug-dealer for his actions? What happened to absolute morality? Shouldn’t owning people be wrong irrespective of the culture?

    “it could work just as well in Berkeley’s system that held to the non-existence of matter.”

    it meaning science? yeah, it could…

    “And yet to know that this is how you approach evidence and that there is evidence to approach, you need a basis in at least common sense realism, which is not and cannot be determined by science.”

    we don’t have to hold it true, just that we have a shared delusion is sufficient, which isn’t common sense realism. Reality doesn’t have to exist as we experience it, we just have to share the delusion. That’s explored by the Matrix. That reality isn’t really existent, but because everyone experiences it, it works out okay.

    “Sure, but if I have a memory of it and I have no reason to think that memory false, I have justification. My memory could be mistaken, but I have justification.”

    Yes. But that’s also a demonstration. You can demonstrate it with the evidence of your memory usually being reliable and remembering events that way. So you can demonstrate it.

  • Nick Peters

    Sean: t would. You should look into developing that skill.

    Reply: I think I’ll stick with traditional reading. It shows a great security to be able to interact with a scholarly position that disagrees with you.

    Sean: Wait, what? That’s like saying if aliens didn’t visit Earth, the claim that they did could never get off the ground. Sure it could.

    Reply: No. Not the same. There would have to be some artifact that needs to be explained. The tomb would have been a known location. Had there been a body in it, who could say the tomb was empty?

    Sean: I’ll just take your word for it that it’s a settled matter. On that, I really don’t care all that much.

    Reply: Actually, the empty tomb isn’t a settled matter amongst scholars, but it is the majority viewpoint and a number of skeptical scholars like Allison and Vermes hold to it.

    What is undisputed is not only the existence of Jesus (Which is why I think Christ-mythicism is a simply ridiculous opinion), the crucifixion of Jesus, and the claim that the apostles thought they saw the risen Christ.

    Sean: So people who think they experience aliens abducting them, and then chose to believe aliens abducted them, they are applying the proper level of skepticism? What happens if you see Ra, the Egyptian sun god appear before you? You going to believe it? Visual evidence isn’t enough for Ra, aliens or dragons.

    Reply: I think they are entirely justified in their beliefs. Can that stand up to scrutiny? That’s another question. If I saw another deity appear before me, I can easily explain it. I hold to demonic activity being a reality after all.

    Sean: Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

    Reply: The classic loaded question. I sense this was used just to answer what you didn’t get. Unfortunately, you had said this “Words are just a tool. They can take on any definition we feel like.”

    If that’s the case, then I took on the definition of your words that you hold to a hidden tendency to abuse animals. Now don’t say I’m wrong. The words can take on any definition I feel like.

    Sean: I don’t see that I’m asserting you believe a basis you don’t accept here. My point was simply that these terms can be looked at in multiple ways.

    Reply: Terms can be, but at the same time, terms are not entirely fluid things. They have meaning that comes from numerous places.

    Sean: Depending on what level you’re talking, I’m glad you understand. Now can you understand that the same is true for theistic beliefs?

    REply: No. We’ve always held strongly to evidence.

    Sean: And to be clear, when you’re talking about evidence, you’re aware this conversation is about why we value what we value.

    Reply: No. The conversation is about why we should see anything as good.

    Sean: At some point, everyone, theist or otherwise, we do not have justification for what we value, or if you would like different terms, we don’t have a justification for why we ought to. We only have it with respect to a thing, and at some point, we cannot say why we have it with respect to that thing.

    Reply: Speak for yourself. I have a moral system informed by a strong Aristotlean background.

    Sean: For example, if you were to explain that we out to do what God wants because he knows what is best for us, well why should we value what’s best for us? Or if it’s because he created us, well why should we care about that? It b reaks do wn for everyone at some point.

    Reply: Fortunately, I never said any of that. I said we should do something because it is good to do.

    Sean: I think I agree with that.

    Reply: Then you should welcome moral objectivity then.

    SEan: You’ll find brilliant minds who believe all sorts of things about religion, including many who follow a religion different from your own. I was talking about an idea that withstood time that we consider wrong. But if you don’t like the tooth fairy, how about atheism or any old religion.

    Reply: Yes. There are brilliant minds in all fields which tells me the question is not really one of intellect so much as one of will. By all means have an opinion, but don’t go with an idea just because it is fashionable at the time or accepted at the time. The opinions of NT scholarship from a conservative viewpoint have actually had more evidence which makes them more reliable over time. In science, theories like The Big Bang Theory have been justified by more evidence or theories like General Relativity. The idea, however, that there is a conflict between science and religion is really the new kid on the block.

    Sean: It was. You think there’s some value in withstanding the test of time and having smart people believe your religion. Again, if you don’t like that particular example, how about atheism or any old religion.

    Reply: No. My argument is not something is true because of how old it is. An old idea can be false. My argument is that a worldview surviving critical scrutiny for centuries gives it more validity. No view I know of has been more scrutinized than Christianity.

    Sean: Why do you wash your hands? It’s because of science’s germ theory of disease. Your actions are highly dependent on science, as is your view of the world. (I should think and hope) There are a great many examples of science playing into how you view the world. Certainly not everything, but that’s different from your worldview not depending on it.

    Reply: Correct. Science is not the foundation of my worldview, but it is a part. That has never been under question.

    Sean: The exact same could be said of christian interpretations of the Bible. People used it to justify slavery in the south and beating their children.

    Reply: And you’ll find that just as much back then there were strong abolitionist arguments exposing how fallacious those were back then.

    Sean: That’s not so accepted anymore. Granted the child beating still is in some circles, but it’s certainly far less so. Teachers cannot do it anymore for example, and far fewer parents do.

    Reply: And what interpretations are still with us today that have stood the test? What has stood the test are doctrines like the Trinity, the bodily resurrection, the full deity of Christ, etc. This doesn’t mean that they’re true, but they certainly have survived as what is taught in Scripture.

    Sean: If you had another place of work all lined up though…

    Reply; Where? There weren’t exactly a lot of businesses staying open during the time of wandering in the wilderness. Your best bet was to hire yourself out to someone else. You couldn’t go to a department store, supermarket, etc. to get a job. Later there would be change as Israel became more industrialized up to the time of Christ, but for the time being, there was nothing.

    Sean: Because people don’t deserve to be slaves. Why is not being enslaved a benefit of the covenant?

    Reply: Hebrews could be enslaved just as much. They sold themselves out. Foreigners who were there from war had to provide for themselves somehow. There wasn’t much other way to do it. You didn’t have government agencies in ancient Israel or charities that provided for the welfare of the poor. (Although there was some allowance for practices like gleaning)

    Sean: That’s like saying well, if you wanted food you just gotta convert to judaism. Why should god allow the food to grow on lands not controlled by Jews.

    Reply: Go see Acts 14 and you’ll find out with what Paul said to Lystra. No. If you wanted food, you had to work. If you wanted to be able to work and set yourself free, you needed the blessings of the covenant.

    Sean: The answer is because he shouldn’t be a complete; the only words that fit the end of this statement will probably get my comment removed.

    Reply: And He does do that. He does give them the blessings. People had to work somehow. This is why it’s important to understand the culture.

    Sean: The first statement is that they were created, not created equally. This book describes women as being unclean when they are on their period, and that they shouldn’t be touched, and that whatever they touch will become unclean. How’s that for elevating the female gender?

    Reply: How does that go against the female sex? It shows a time that they can’t be taken advantage of. A man is unclean when he has a nightly emission. Is that a lowering of the nature of the man then? Also, men and women are equal in that they both fully bear the image of God.

    Sean: Well you seemed upset because I said beating was allowed.

    Reply: No emotion in what I do.

    Sean: Your response was that there were other methods of keeping them in line, and that if you incapacitated your slaves they couldn’t work as well. I agreed, and pointed out that they could also be nice to the slaves. But so too can a child molester be nice to the clid he or she molests sometimes. That does not validate the actions of molesting a child.

    Reply: This argument only works if one assumes manual discipline is always wrong. Note that Hebrews did this to their own children. It does not mean perpetual beating and there’s nothing that says a slave owner cannot try other methods, but if they do not work….

    SEan: And The slaves could be beaten. Moreover, if the slaves die, you may not punish the slave-owner for killing the slave so long as the timeframe is sufficiently long between the beating and the death. The justification for this, the slave is the property of his master. Since when is it okay for me to not be punished for murder that isn’t in self-defense?

    Reply: The owner was to be given the benefit of the doubt in an era where you could not do forensic testing. It was to be assumed when you couldn’t question the witnesses that the owner would not want to do this. It would only end badly for him as other possible slaves would sell themselves out to others lowering his financial stability and even worse, his honor ranking. Note also that a murder had to be witnessed by two people.

    Sean: Slaves are valu ed far l ess than other humans in this society. They are property before people, and God ordained it. That’s the issue. I can break my own slave like I can break my own lamp, just because it’s mine and that’s okay??!

    Reply: And if you do so much as knock out a tooth, the slave was to go free. This was a serious system that had it that the slave would be benefited whenever possible.

    Sean: Guess what you have to do now, work. I see that by slavery they meant human beings are property of other human beings. That’s what they meant by slavery, and it’s morally atrocious.

    Reply: Property is a difficult term for cultural anthropologists in this regard. The slave had numerous rights, could build up his own wealth, etc. The assumption being made is that property is said in exclusion to humanity. There’s nothing of that in the text.

    Sean: I’d prefer that you stop buying your slaves from the heathen around you. Just leave ‘em be!

    Reply: People have to work somehow. If they’re willing to sell to the Hebrews, they’re much better off. They have a much easier time obtaining freedom there.

    Sean: So now we are saying God just has to be better than the humans of the time? I thought he had to be perfect.

    Reply: This is a misconception. It’s like saying God has to set up the perfect society immediately in ancient Israel. He doesn’t. He starts where they are. Slavery had to be around for society to function because people had to have jobs and wealth had to be produced. It would take the development of society before slavery could end.

    Sean: So what if other societies had slavery. God shouldn’t allow it. And the slave was absolutely not treated as human. They were property first.

    Reply: Got any evidence of this?

    SEan: If my mother kills me in today’s society because she beat me to death after I didn’t do my chores, she’ll get the death penalty or prison for life depending on the state.

    Reply: Your mother also lives in a society with forensic examination, DNA testing, etc. Had that been around then, things would be different, but in a society where such things could not be investigated, they weren’t. Note also the laws were didactic. If the judges thought they saw reason to think serious abuse had occurred, they could indeed give the death penalty.

    Sean: What won’t happen is she’ll pay a fine and then be done with it. But that was what happened with slaves. If I kill your slave, I owe you money. Not I deserve to die for killing another human, I owe you money. Don’t tell me that’s an acceptable way for you and I to treat an innocent man’s life. That’s sickeningly grotesque.

    Reply: Got a reference?

    Sean: The main point there was not that we did it without God, but that God should demand that they change their ways. He did it when it came to the sins of other nations. They were ordered to stop, and when they didn’t they all got killed.

    Reply: And part of what they did wrong was how they treated the least of them. Israel got the exact same standard. Again, you can’t just destroy slavery in the ancient world. People have to work to survive.

    Sean: Sure, absolute individualism isn’t good either. There’s a happy medium though, and it doesn’t coincide with humans being property.

    Reply: Nothing in an honor system requires humans be property.

    Sean: Perhaps I’m not representing your specific views, since there are differences, but the idea that we all hold within us original sin is pretty common. But if that misrepresents your view then I’ll not bother trying to see with you whether or not it’s wrong, since we’re in agreement.

    Reply: Oh I hold to original sin, but I hold that the sins you pay for are your own.

    Sean: Huh? Even if we accept that he did for this discussion, the idea is that he still had to die to absolve us of that sin in the first place. So fine, before Jesus died it’s what we all would have deserved based on what someone else did.

    Reply: If Jesus rose, Christianity is true and you just have to work out a system. We all get what we deserve based on what we do.

    Sean: Sure, the Bible shows that their culture considered some humans as property. As a humanist, and a decent person I might add, I’m not going to bother looking further than that.

    Reply: That’s a sign of a lazy person instead. The Bible is in a high-context society and you won’t understand the text without understanding the historical context. To not bother to understand the society that the Israelites lived in is to be lazy.

    Sean: Whether or not they thought it was acceptable based on their value of humans has no bearing on whether or not God should allow slavery.

    Reply; Already addressed ad infinitum.

    Sean: Yeah, I agreed that within that culture it’s more okay. But should that mean God will excuse the Jewish drug-dealer for his actions? What happened to absolute morality? Shouldn’t owning people be wrong irrespective of the culture?

    Reply: There is such a thing as graded absolutism. In the OT system, God allows certain practices that are less than ideal in preparation for the ideal rather than launch the ideal right at the start. Wouldn’t work. People couldn’t follow it anyway.

    Sean: it meaning science? yeah, it could…

    Reply: Yep. So your evidence from science that the external world exists is?….

    Sean: we don’t have to hold it true, just that we have a shared delusion is sufficient, which isn’t common sense realism.

    Reply: We all have this same shared delusion? How is that even possible? Berkeley had a basis, but not one you’d like.

    Sean: Reality doesn’t have to exist as we experience it, we just have to share the delusion. That’s explored by the Matrix. That reality isn’t really existent, but because everyone experiences it, it works out okay.

    Reply: I am just sitting here so surprised that in order to hold to a problematic viewpoint that best explains reality, you’re willing to say reality doesn’t exist….

    Sean: Yes. But that’s also a demonstration. You can demonstrate it with the evidence of your memory usually being reliable and remembering events that way. So you can demonstrate it.

    Reply: Sure, but I can’t do so scientifically.

  • sean

    “No. Not the same. There would have to be some artifact that needs to be explained. The tomb would have been a known location. Had there been a body in it, who could say the tomb was empty?”

    There are lots of artifacts people who believe in aliens point to. And everyone could say it was even if it were not. If aliens didn’t cause the mark on that man who claims to have been abducted, why would he say they did? It’s completely parallel. The answer is that I don’t know that their motivation is, but that does not make the claim believable.

    “Actually, the empty tomb isn’t a settled matter amongst scholars, but it is the majority viewpoint and a number of skeptical scholars like Allison and Vermes hold to it.

    What is undisputed is not only the existence of Jesus (Which is why I think Christ-mythicism is a simply ridiculous opinion), the crucifixion of Jesus, and the claim that the apostles thought they saw the risen Christ.”

    So the tome isn’t the proof you’d point to of Christianity being true, just the apostles having seen him? Andrew already covered this topic pretty well. I am not a mythicist, so we are on the same page there. But just because they saw Jesus does not mean he was there just like just because people saw aliens does not mean they were there.

    “I think they are entirely justified in their beliefs. Can that stand up to scrutiny? That’s another question.”

    I reject your definition of justified as holding any weight when we test the veracity of claims as being reasonable to believe in then. If your observations don’t hold up to scrutiny, even if they are what you call justifiable, we shouldn’t hold them. Do you think people who have seen aliens are being reasonable in their beliefs if they hold the belief that they really saw them?

    “If I saw another deity appear before me, I can easily explain it. I hold to demonic activity being a reality after all.”

    Then how could you know if any appertain was not just a daemon trying to obscure the truth of what god really wants? What rationalization do you have there? How can you conclude that it’s more likely god than the devil trying to trick Paul, or indeed every prophet, if you concede that daemons could have also conceivably been behind it? What method do you use?

    “The classic loaded question. I sense this was used just to answer what you didn’t get. Unfortunately, you had said this “Words are just a tool. They can take on any definition we feel like.”

    If that’s the case, then I took on the definition of your words that you hold to a hidden tendency to abuse animals. Now don’t say I’m wrong. The words can take on any definition I feel like.”

    I see. Yeah I didn’t quite follow what you were implying by that. Those sorts of questions tend to be used in response to leading questions, and I was not seeing one. I got your meaning now though. We could do that I suppose, it’s kinda the problem with language, coming to mutual intelligibility. Certainly we could agree that not having that is bad for conversation. My only point was that we could, if we agree on definitions, adopt new definitions and words for the conversation, so long as we are clear on definitions. Sometimes it’s even useful. If there’s a loaded and vague word like good, for which we don’t see eye to eye on a definition, we probably could use a different way of saying things, and that would be better.

    “Terms can be, but at the same time, terms are not entirely fluid things. They have meaning that comes from numerous places.”

    I suppose. That’s why it’s sometime helpful to make new terms, so we are not dragging unhelpful term baggage into a conversation.

    “No. We’ve always held strongly to evidence … The conversation is about why we should see anything as good … Speak for yourself. I have a moral system informed by a strong Aristotlean background.”

    I’m not saying you have no basis, just that we all have no basis for our basis. If you want to claim you do have a basis for your basis, then just take my basis for basis as far back as you can in terms of what your basis is. At some point you reach inarguable axions. We should behave this way because it’s conducive to x. If we have the same x, we need to figure out where we branch, because we should be arriving at the same conclusion in term of morality. If our x is different, we need to convince the other person that their x is not as good as our own x, and that that’s what they should really base it on. What’s your x? As a humanist, mine’s the well being of people.

    “Fortunately, I never said any of that. I said we should do something because it is good to do.”

    This term isn’t one I understand in the way you are using it. Explain what you mean by good here.

    “Then you should welcome moral objectivity then.”

    I do.

    “Yes. There are brilliant minds in all fields which tells me the question is not really one of intellect so much as one of will. By all means have an opinion, but don’t go with an idea just because it is fashionable at the time or accepted at the time.”

    Said the Christian to the atheist. Rest assured my belief is not that atheism is the popular view.

    “The opinions of NT scholarship from a conservative viewpoint have actually had more evidence which makes them more reliable over time. In science, theories like The Big Bang Theory have been justified by more evidence or theories like General Relativity. The idea, however, that there is a conflict between science and religion is really the new kid on the block.”

    I agree that there’s not necessarily a conflict between science and every god claim.

    “No. My argument is not something is true because of how old it is. An old idea can be false. My argument is that a worldview surviving critical scrutiny for centuries gives it more validity.”

    I guess, that’s just an odd way of putting it.

    No view I know of has been more scrutinized than Christianity.

    I think probably not, but I don’t know why it matters, since you’ve admitted that has nothing to do with truth.

    “Correct. Science is not the foundation of my worldview, but it is a part. That has never been under question.”

    Cool, me too.

    “And you’ll find that just as much back then there were strong abolitionist arguments exposing how fallacious those were back then.”

    There’s this idea of the Bible as a big book of multiple choice. You’re cherry-picking. If the book says ‘x’, and you point to something else that clearly indicates ‘not x’ as proof that it does not say ‘x’. You’re ignoring the possibility that it’s self-contradictory and says both ‘x’ and ‘not x’.

    “And what interpretations are still with us today that have stood the test? What has stood the test are doctrines like the Trinity, the bodily resurrection, the full deity of Christ, etc. This doesn’t mean that they’re true, but they certainly have survived as what is taught in Scripture.”

    Etc… like the Earth being 6000 years old, or evolution being wrong. There’s lots of stuff the bible says that’s clearly wrong yet survived. You even admitted that in terms of what survived that doesn’t map for truth, so I’m not seeing why it’s then relevant that those particular examples, which you’ve again cherry-picked, have survived. It says nothing about the truth of the claims.

    “Where? There weren’t exactly a lot of businesses staying open during the time of wandering in the wilderness. Your best bet was to hire yourself out to someone else. You couldn’t go to a department store, supermarket, etc. to get a job. Later there would be change as Israel became more industrialized up to the time of Christ, but for the time being, there was nothing.”

    Believe it or not, the inability of someone to find work is not a justification for slavery. Aside from that, your timeline would seem to suggest that a) Jesus abolished slavery, and b) that history goes desert journey, then Jesus right after that. There was time after the desert where they could have found other work, yet slavery was not banned then despite this industrialization you cite. Aside from that, the claim, ‘Your best bet was to hire yourself out to someone else.’ is still true today for people without money. That’s what explains people working for companies. But that doesn’t seem to be justification for slavery in today’s world.

    “Hebrews could be enslaved just as much.”

    Well, not just as much, they worked for six years and were freed in the seventh, save for the wife and kids exemption clause. But it’s true that Hebrews could also be enslaved. But you were claiming that people should just join the covenant. You do understand though that Judaism was not just religion one could convert to. The Jewish people were a people, not just a religion and that God chose the Jews specifically to be his chosen people. That’s less true in today’s time that Jews are a people in addition to a religion, but you’re quite into ensuring we understand what was meant by the words. And this doesn’t refute my original point which was that Jew or not, no person is deserving of slavery.

    “They sold themselves out.”

    Sometimes, but sometimes they were sold out; if they could not repay a debt or something.

    “Foreigners who were there from war had to provide for themselves somehow. There wasn’t much other way to do it.”

    Here’s an idea Moses had; “Let [the] people go.” Why are they there from war, and why can’t they provide by simply working, instead of being enslaved?

    “You didn’t have government agencies in ancient Israel or charities that provided for the welfare of the poor. (Although there was some allowance for practices like gleaning)”

    If all the poor people are enslaved and provided for by their masters, which you argue is the justification for slavery, what’s the point of gleaning?

    “Go see Acts 14 and you’ll find out with what Paul said to Lystra.”

    Done.

    “No. If you wanted food, you had to work.”

    I’m not sure that’s what the passage was about… at all. So I decided to look up other’s interpretations, and could find no interpretation that claimed that is the message of acts 14. Some people were converted, an man was healed, Paul said god graced them with food even though they had not believed in him. What’s that got to do with working for food?

    “If you wanted to be able to work and set yourself free, you needed the blessings of the covenant.”

    Well if you wanted to work, you didn’t need the blessings. You could just be a slave and still have to do work. But you need the covenant to be free? You really think people who didn’t believe in Judaism deserved to be enslaved and only Jews deserved the ability to free themselves?

    “And He does do that. He does give them the blessings. People had to work somehow.”

    They were blessed because they got the privilege of being enslaved. I’m confused?

    “This is why it’s important to understand the culture.”

    It is equally as important to understand how much the American South relied on slavery in its culture. But if I’m not mistaken you don’t accept that as valid. Why the discrepancy?

    “How does that go against the female sex?”

    That’s rather obvious, it’s specifically against females. It is against, and applies to females. How it anything other than against the female sex?

    “A man is unclean when he has a nightly emission. Is that a lowering of the nature of the man then?”

    Yes.

    “Also, men and women are equal in that they both fully bear the image of God.”

    What? God’s a hermaphrodite, both male and female? Also, if you’d prefer something more blatantly anti-woman, how about I Corinthians 11:3

    “This argument only works if one assumes manual discipline is always wrong.”

    It is when manual means beating.

    “Note that Hebrews did this to their own children.”

    Also immoral.

    “It does not mean perpetual beating and there’s nothing that says a slave owner cannot try other methods, but if they do not work….”

    I agree it’s not perpetual, but a rapist does not perpetually rape people either. It’s still wrong. And the but if they work line, is like saying well, if I really want to have sex with this person, but he or she does not consent, rape is therefore validated. because you trued other methods, but if they don’t work… That’s a parallel argument, an done I’m sure you find wrong.

    “The owner was to be given the benefit of the doubt in an era where you could not do forensic testing. It was to be assumed when you couldn’t question the witnesses that the owner would not want to do this.”

    Ergo the slaves beat themselves to death? Who said the beating has to be intended to kill anyways? It’s still manslaughter though. And that specific chapter has nothing to do with determining culpability, just whether or not the person was to be punished. A statute of limitations if you will.

    “It would only end badly for him as other possible slaves would sell themselves out to others lowering his financial stability and even worse, his honor ranking. Note also that a murder had to be witnessed by two people.”

    But it’s explicitly defining a timeline, if death happened in 6 hours, the owner is punished. If it takes too long, he’s not. Delineation of a timeframe has nothing to do with culpability in the act.

    “And if you do so much as knock out a tooth, the slave was to go free.”

    Rather odd, I agree. That’s why it’s the big book of multiple choice.

    “This was a serious system that had it that the slave would be benefited whenever possible.”

    Is freedom not a benefit or not possible? I see it that it happens to be both, and that’s not something that should be delineated along the lines of Jew vs non-Jew.

    “Property is a difficult term for cultural anthropologists in this regard. The slave had numerous rights, could build up his own wealth, etc. The assumption being made is that property is said in exclusion to humanity. There’s nothing of that in the text.”

    I don’t assume that people cannot be property, just that it’s immoral. If you can pay for a person’s freedom, that’s property.

    “People have to work somehow. If they’re willing to sell to the Hebrews, they’re much better off. They have a much easier time obtaining freedom there.”

    If they’re selling themselves into slavery, what’s this claim that it’s easier to obtain freedom. They already had it before they sold themselves.

    “This is a misconception. It’s like saying God has to set up the perfect society immediately in ancient Israel.”

    It’s indeed exactly like that. He’s all powerful. These people were slaves in Egypt and he just freed them. I’m pretty sure he’s got leverage here when explaining these rules.

    “He doesn’t.”

    Morally, he sure does.

    “He starts where they are.”

    So I’ve gathered.

    “Slavery had to be around for society to function because people had to have jobs and wealth had to be produced.”

    Slavery had to be around for society to function because people had to have jobs and wealth had to be produced in the American South. Was that slavery okay too?

    “It would take the development of society before slavery could end.”

    They Jews don’t have a society…?

    “Got any evidence of this?”

    Yes, you did not have to consult your slaves when you sold them.

    “Your mother also lives in a society with forensic examination, DNA testing, etc. Had that been around then, things would be different, but in a society where such things could not be investigated, they weren’t.”

    How about they ask God?

    “Note also the laws were didactic. If the judges thought they saw reason to think serious abuse had occurred, they could indeed give the death penalty.”

    Morality is didactic? These are moral laws. What happened to absolute morality?

    “Got a reference?”

    Ah, good call. I have misremembered. It was if your ox kills a slave. Interesting though, that that’s different from if the ox kills a free person, whereby nothing occurs. But not the same as me killing your slave, that much is true.

    “And part of what they did wrong was how they treated the least of them. Israel got the exact same standard.”

    Just because it’s equal does not mean it’s moral.

    “Again, you can’t just destroy slavery in the ancient world. People have to work to survive.”

    Again, you can’t just destroy slavery in the American South. People have to work to survive. It just so happens that you can and should destroy slavery. The American North thought so at least.

    “Nothing in an honor system requires humans be property.”

    I agree. But this particular society had that requirement. Nothing in individualism mandates that you take other peoples stuff either.

    “Oh I hold to original sin, but I hold that the sins you pay for are your own.”

    Then you’re at odds with a lot of Christians. Also, if we are not judged for original sin, in what sense to we have it? Surely mot any meaningful one.

    “If Jesus rose, Christianity is true and you just have to work out a system.”

    Not so. How do you determine that it’s more probably that Christianity is true than that some God different from the revealed one exists, and just made a Jesus meat puppet to mess with people because he thinks it’s funny, and really there is no afterlife for us. How do you tell based on Jesus’s resurrection which is more probable of the two scenarios?

    “We all get what we deserve based on what we do.”

    Which is not what Christianity is. Christianity is that we all get heaven if we submit to being a sycophant to an idea. Those who don’t, no matter how good, get Hell. You’re aware Hitler has gone to Heaven in your theology, while I, as a decent upstanding person deserve Hell.

    “That’s a sign of a lazy person instead.”

    We all have limited time.

    “The Bible is in a high-context society and you won’t understand the text without understanding the historical context. To not bother to understand the society that the Israelites lived in is to be lazy.”

    Fine, but to not understand that the American South needed slaves is to be lazy as well.

    “Already addressed ad infinitum.”

    Look, you’re the one who made the claim that I need to understand their culture to understand why it’s acceptable in that culture. But that still doesn’t make it moral. There could be some culture wherein it’s acceptable to rape, but that doesn’t mean you should allow it or that it’s moral, right?

    “There is such a thing as graded absolutism. In the OT system, God allows certain practices that are less than ideal in preparation for the ideal rather than launch the ideal right at the start. Wouldn’t work. People couldn’t follow it anyway.”

    So why did he ban wearing mixed fibers? On top of that, would you say we needed to allow the south the time to be still very racist after the civil war, and shouldn’t have imposed such strict laws, like equality? Just because the people of the south didn’t live up to it does not mean we should not have legislated it. And isn’t it true that no person save Jesus can follow the law entirely? So what does it matter if they couldn’t follow it exactly. That does nothing to justify not enacting an anti-slavery law.

    “Yep. So your evidence from science that the external world exists is?”

    Science does not require external reality to exist in order to function. Let’s say solipsism is correct. That in no way invalidates the findings of science.

    “We all have this same shared delusion? How is that even possible?”

    well, a) the matrix, or b), it’s not shared, it’s just mine and none of the rest of you exist, you just appear to me as though you have an independently thinking mind.

    “Berkeley had a basis, but not one you’d like.”

    Which is that whatever exists does so exists because it is conceived of? On solipsism, it’s possible.

    “I am just sitting here so surprised that in order to hold to a problematic viewpoint that best explains reality, you’re willing to say reality doesn’t exist….”

    Externally. And not that it does, but that it’s conceivable that it might and I have no way to disprove it. But what appears to be the case of our reality is that we are all independent minds sharing a really real reality. But if it were not true, then science would obviously not necessarily describe a real reality, just my, or our, imagined one. But science only claims to describe the reality we experience, not an objective one.

    “Sure, but I can’t do so scientifically.”

    Specific instances are historical claims, but we can test the accuracy of your memory in general scientifically. If we were to find it unreliable, then what you remember would actually not serve as justification for what you ate. That’s not to say that you have to be wrong, you might be right about what you ate. But your memory is not sufficient justification for that claim.

  • bbrown

    ….”Not I deserve to die for killing another human, I owe you money. Don’t
    tell me that’s an acceptable way for you and I to treat an innocent
    man’s life. That’s sickeningly grotesque…..”

    Sean, I suspect you support abortion. If so, don’t tell me that’s an acceptable way for you and I to treat an innocent man’s life. That’s sickeningly grotesque.

    God’s word opposes abortion just as it opposes slavery. And it will be Christians who will finally end this modern holocaust just as it was Christians who ended slavery.

  • Nick Peters

    Bill Pratt, I have had an internal server error in response to Sean. Is my response too long? Is it something on the site’s end or my end? I’ve saved my response until this gets fixed.

  • sean

    Were I to accept that a human fetus is the moral equivalent of a person I’d agree with you 100%.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Nick, I am not seeing any errors on my side. I am not sure if there is a maximum number of characters set for a comment, but I’ll see if I can find a setting for that. In the mean time, have you tried to post the comment again?

  • se

    that said, I do know that you view my opinion on abortion as “sickeningly grotesque” But you should understand that my position is one of ignorance, not malice, and that God has no such excuse. He shouldn’t be ignorant.

  • Bruce Van

    Most everything you listed would apply if you changed Christianity to Atheism. Christians can also be quite nasty in their rebuttals.

    Many Christian scholars don’t believe the Bible is a literal account. Stories of Jonah and Noah were teaching tools, but never actually happened. This was a common way of teaching morals. I have read a lot of how Christianity developed which is why I see a heavy hand of man’s agenda.

    Whether Jesus existed or not, what he taught was what the world needed at the time. Whether Jesus had super powers or not doesn’t change the message.

    Some Christians have been known to lie for the sake of their religion, but I think overall most are good, intelligent people who were taught from infancy to be Christian and not to question why.

    Why don’t you as a Christian believe in Zeus or Thor or any of the other thousands of Gods that existed throughout history? It is not coincidence that you follow the religion of those who raised you.

    You know a Christian has used up his logical arsenal when he responds: “Oh yeah, well you’re going to burn in Hell”, and he always seems rather happy about your ultimate demise.

    People seem to be scared to die. Perhaps they do convert. My uncle never did (I was there), yet my mom felt compelled to tell everyone he found Jesus before he died.

    People are brought back from the dead all the time in ERs around the world. Crucifixions usually lasted days, yet Jesus was only up there a few hours. He could have easily been brought down and pronounced dead. Roman guards are not typically trained as medical doctors. Jesus could have easily lived, met with his apostles, and moved on.

    No one knows for certain who wrote the Gospels. Historians agree they were written down at least 60 years and as much as 200 years later. There are no originals. Many gospels were left out (Mary, Thomas, Judas). They were translated several times. There are many, many versions of the Bible out there today, each claiming to be the true version. There are many, many Christian sects based on different translations of the scripture we have. Imagine why the person who claims their view to be fact would be questioned when that would mean so many others got it wrong.

    I do think Mormons have just as much right in their beliefs as other Christians. I find it ironic that so many don’t even consider them to be Christian.

    I have never read the God Delusion. I am atheist because I do not think their is enough evidence to prove a supernatural God. I tend to put anti-theists in the same category as theists in that neither one can ever prove for certain.

  • bbrown

    Bruce,

    It’s almost impossible to respond to this because almost every sentence you wrote is certainly wrong – it’s a list of naive cliches, all of which are based on pop atheist propaganda. Most have been extensively refuted, many by other atheists.

    I’ll just respond briefly to one point: You said….” I think overall most are good, intelligent people who were taught from infancy to be Christian and not to question
    why.”
    I think that it is no mark of goodness or intelligence to base your life on unquestioned fairy stories. But I think this characterization is just flat wrong. Anyone who is not brain dead will come to question their world-view at some point, usually in early adolescence. The big questions of meaning, purpose, origins, eternity hit us all like a Mac truck and a brick wall. Without very strong evidence, no one will, at a really deep level of heart and mind, belieive a lie.

  • Todd

    It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted as time, but this is an interesting article Bill. I think you would likely categorize me as a ‘hyper-skeptic’, but allow me to take a moment to give some gut, and personal, reactions to your observations, one-by one.

    “You think it’s doubtful that Jesus ever lived.” – Based on the limited reading I have done on the subject, it seems reasonable to believe he was a historical figure, however, I doubt everything that was attributed to him was real, especially the miracle stories.

    “You believe that Christian apologists are lying most of the time.” – Quite the opposite. I believe apologists fervently believe what they espouse, which I find infinitely more disturbing.

    ‘You actually think that the evidence for a flying spaghetti monster is as good as the evidence for the Christian God.” – In ranking the evidence between the two, I’d say
    Christianity has the better claim by far; though neither are overly convincing.

    “When you read a blog post written by a Christian, you aren’t reading for understanding; you’re reading to find isolated phrases or sentences that you can attack.” – I always read to increase my understanding, usually in the hopes of finding a gem of wisdom. If I ‘attack’ a certain phrase or sentence it is because I disagree with the authors understanding of the subject. I would say this happens more often with Christian apologists because the content is inherently controversial to an atheist.

    “You believe that Antony Flew renounced atheism only because of old age and senility.” – I can’t comment here as I don’t know who he was, but I will endeavor to read about his account.

    “You don’t understand theology or metaphysics, but you’re certain it’s just a bunch of made-up mumbo-jumbo.” – I could likely write a novel about this topic, but I enjoy pondering those questions to which science cannot directly conduct experimentation. Much of that time is spent looking, however, to science for fundamental understandings of the nature of reality, which I believe better informs my ontology. I think there is a vast distinction to be made between theology and metaphysics, far too much to start in this response.

    “You almost never agree with anything a Christian apologist writes, even on the most uncontroversial subjects.” – On the contrary, I often find myself in perfect agreement regarding morality with apologists, though we often differ on why one should consider certain acts as moral.

    “You believe that if you ever publicly agree with a Christian, you are contributing to the downfall of civilization.” – I agree that anyone who believes thusly is extremely short sighted. Does that agreement put me in an agreeable category?

    “You are 100% certain that people cannot rise from the dead, and no amount of historical evidence would ever be convincing.” – I am 100% that people cannot rise from the dead. No amount of historical evidence would ever be convincing. However, it would only take one scientific experiment, predictable and repeatable under the same conditions to convince me otherwise. In previous posts, this seems to be our major difference and unfortunately the one tenant of Christianity that otherwise seemingly reasonable people must believe to call themselves Christian, despite the overwhelming scientific (and historical evidence of everyone who has ever died) that the opposite is true. It is my prediction I will always hold this belief in contempt as an affront to reality.

    “You think that the strength of the historical evidence supporting the stories in the Book of Mormon is roughly equivalent to the strength of the historical evidence supporting the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.” – See the response to FSM. I think of it roughly in the same manner. Odd though, don’t you think that the age of a religion and the sophistication of the society in which it was conceived seem related to the credibility of evidence for its claims?

    “You think that The God Delusion is a tour de force that annihilates all of the best Christian arguments for God.” – I think it was a strong argument, but not conclusive.

    “You think that the Bible contains nothing of value.” – On the contrary, each time I read it I find one of those gems I so desperately seek.

    Hmm… interesting exercise in the writing. I think our only place of real contention is regarding resurrection. If that is enough to place me as a hyper-skeptic in your eyes, then so be it. Though I, like you and most others I imagine, see themselves as reasonable.

  • Bruce Van

    I was raised in a religious home. We were Methodists. I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know until I would listen to a couple of friends while in the Navy who would debate for hours about the Bible, Jesus, God, and morality.

    When I actually started reading the Bible and the history of the Bible, I became an atheist. I just don’t buy the supernatural aspect.

    I truly believe that most Christians today were like me. This is what they were told and they never had a reason to question it.

    As far as being “extensively refuted”, that usually means both sides walk away thinking they won the argument. The reason this debate has went on for so long is that there are no definitive answers.

    I think most Christians have doubt, whether they admit it or not. You can see it in their faces when they have to face their mortality.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Bruce,
    You obviously have not been a long-time reader of this blog. I have dealt with virtually every one of the points you made in your comments at one time or another.

    Bruce, there are so many “facts” in your comment that you got wrong, that I can only assume that your reading diet has consisted of almost 100% anti-theistic internet sites.

    If you really are interested in learning some truths about Christianity, I would recommend spending a few hours reading posts on this blog, and even subscribing to it through email or the RSS feed.

    God bless,
    Bill

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Todd,
    Happy New Year. I agree that the absolute number one stumbling block for you is the possibility of Jesus being resurrected. You have consistently said time and time again that people cannot rise from the dead.

    In previous comments, even other atheists have pointed out your dogmatism on this topic as being close-minded and unhelpful, yet you are still sticking by your guns!

    You still ask for a scientific experiment to be done to prove this is possible when the entire point of the resurrection of Jesus was that it was a one-time event that overturned the normally operating laws of nature.

    If resurrections could predictably occur, then it wouldn’t have been evidence that Jesus was the Son of God, would it? He would have just been another magician or trickster.

    I can only pray that God will open your eyes to the possibility of Jesus’s resurrection, because it seems that my words to you on this topic bounce off of you.

  • Billy Talty

    Just reading through these comments is interesting. Textual criticism, although not a perfect tool, helps identify different sources for the same story, which is evidence enough to suggest that the accounts of Jesus are at best corroborated. why would a group of men get together to make up a story And then stand behind it, and then die for it? At least we know Paul was a real person who says the stories were handed down to him. At least we know Paul died for the sake of spreading this story. The biggest objection I’ve heard against multiple attestation is that Paul could have made up the whole story. This is easily refuted, we don’t even have all of Paul’s writings, but we know Paul’s account of Jesus are vague and undeveloped in his earliest works. Yet our earliest gospel account, Mark, obviously has plenty to say about Jesus. Let’s not forget that Mark is said to be sermon notes from Peter, and probably has additional sources due to certain gaps and jumps in some of the passages. But Mark is dated to have been writing CA 60CE, that’s compiled about that time. Paul’s earliest letters date CA 50CE, that’s written. Yet, there is obviously a much more developed Christology going on, that Paul at the least left out of his known writings, so it’s just unprobabilistic to assume Paul alone made up Jesus. So, it is more likely to think that there was an actual Jesus, and using sourcing we can find specific details that people heard, witnessed, or claimed about Jesus (including the miracles, Whether we have faith in Hume or not). This Jesus as-dying/rising-sun-God-myth claim is just irrational, and begs skeptical beliefs onto the historical accounts.

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